New Brunswick

School board to examine concussion policies after 9 players suffer head injuries

The Francophone South School District has commented on the football game that ended Friday with nine players transported to hospital.

The reasons for the number of injuries are still unclear

A still from a broadcast of the Friday-night football game in Moncton that was shut down after half time due to nine head injuries. (Submitted)

The Francophone South School District says it will examine its policies around concussions in school football games.

The district is also backing the decision by a high school football coach to withdraw his team from a Friday game after nine players were sent to hospital for blows to the head, and four of them displayed concussion-like symptoms. 

"Faced with the high number of injured players, the coach made an informed decision in the best interest of the students," Monique Boudreau, the district superintendent wrote in a statement. "School sports are intended to enable students to develop sport and leadership skills in an environment that protects their health, safety and well-being."

Practices for the next games will resume, but we will certainly examine the issue.- Statement from Francophone South School District

The statement also says the district is awaiting medical reports on the injured students, and the protocol for concussions will be followed for affected players.

"Practices for the next games will resume, but we will certainly examine the issue," the release states.

Nothing appeared out of the ordinary

One parent at a high school football game in Moncton on Friday said everything seemed normal until half time.

Sitting on hot pads and covered in blankets, they watched as the referees and coaches convened in the middle of the field.

A few players for the École L'Odyssée Olympiens had been sidelined with injuries, but Julie Cormier, a parent of a player on the visiting Tantramar Titans, said the game appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary.

"All of a sudden they just hollered 'they threw the game, so the game's over.' Our kids loaded back on the bus and we came home," Cormier said. "I've never seen a team forfeit halfway through a game due to injuries ever."

Nine of the École L'Odyssée Olympiens players had suffered hits to the head and at least four exhibited symptoms of concussion. 

Marcel Metti, the coach of the École L'Odyssée Olympiens told the CBC Sunday those nine players were transported to hospital after the game. 

He declined to comment further when asked to Monday.

Sharing advice

High-school football in the province is overseen by The New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association, or NBIAA.

Josh Harris, executive director of Football New Brunswick, a minor league for players under 16, says he hopes the NBIAA takes this incident as an opportunity to examine its rules around concussions.

Josh Harris, executive director of Football New Brunswick, said he hopes high schools will adopt some of his organization's rules around concussions. (CBC)

"This obviously does impact football as a whole and does put awareness on everybody," he said. "We do want to see high school football taking into consideration some of the rules we have put into place. And we've worked with them on some of that stuff."

Harris said Football NB implements some rules around concussions the NBIAA does not.

In the minor league, players only compete within a two-year age increment.

"In high-school football, you could have a grade 9 playing against a grade 12, which could impact the safety of the game," he said.

Additionally, Football NB has a rule called "head of the game," which penalizes a player if their first point of contact is the head.

Reasons for injury still not clear

The school district did not comment on why so many injuries occurred at the Friday game.

I didn't see anything during the half that would cause a problem, especially with concussion-type injuries.- Robert Berry

Robert Berry, a previous mayor of Sackville who attended the game, said the audience was unsure of the reason as well.

"Whether the game was over-rough or whatever, I don't think it was rougher or tougher than any high-school football game I've ever seen," Berry said. "I didn't see anything during the half that would cause a problem, especially with concussion-type injuries."

The coach of the Titans told the CBC Sunday his players were not playing overly roughly.

"They were outmatched, that's as simple as it was," he said. "That's how football is."

With files from Gabrielle Fahmy