Benezech: Rugby players’ health is my only concern

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Pic: Laurent Benezech in his playing days

A message to my fellow rugbyman, Alan Quinlan.

Mon Cher Alan,

It was with great interest that I read your column in Wednesday’s Irish Times. It arrived via email with a cover note from the journalist Paul Kimmage: “Alan Quinlan is speaking your language – he just doesn’t realise it.”

I’m inclined to agree.

We have both spent a lot of time in rugby dressing rooms, Alan; we have both seen how hard players work and “the pain thresholds they’ve gone beyond” and I agree when you insist that their reputation is important. But is it more important than their health? I think not. And the health of the players is my only concern.

You seem a bit confused on this, Alan, but if you had undertaken some research before taking up your pen you would know that is was never my goal to accuse the players of doping practices. To be honest, I don’t even know what that means. No, the argument I’ve been making is that this obsession with performance, and the increased medical aid, is pushing players over and beyond the limit of what their bodies can support.

To illustrate my point, and to give you a clearer sense of where I’m coming from, let’s take the example of a substance you highlight in your piece: “Cortisone is a fact of life for rugby players.” You also suggest that it is harmless and only used to treat injury or “an anti-inflammatory that eases the pain of an injury and brings down the swelling and bruising.”


But the problem is that this drug, a corticoid, also has the ability to create a euphoric state in the body which allows an athlete to train more without feeling pain or tiredness. When taken in the form of a course of treatment during periods of intensive training, cortisone allows a person to substantially increase his athletic performance. So I have to challenge your assertion that “cortisone doesn’t build an once of muscle” or “contribute in any way to bodies getting bigger.”……………. see more at :-

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