Schoolboy’s death prompts father’s plea

Ben Robinson
Ben Robinson

A former Lurgan man is campaigning for better education about concussion in sport following the death of his 14-year-old son.

Ben Robinson died from ‘second impact syndrome’ - the result of two concussive-type injuries in quick succession - while playing rugby for Carrickfergus Grammar School in January 2011.

Ben’s father Peter Robinson has been researching concussion for the past two and half years and since last month’s inquest into his son’s death Peter is trying to get the message across that no risks should be taken where concussion is concerned.

“On the day he died Ben played on after suffering from concussion,” said 47-year-old Peter, an ex-pupil of Lurgan College and a first XV player with Lurgan Rugby Club.

“The last thing Ben wanted was to let his team mates down. The decision to take him off should have been taken out of his hands.”

Peter met with Scottish Parliament regarding concussion in sport and has talks lined up with the Education and Sports Ministers at Stormont as well as the IRFU.

He added: “There are guidelines on concussion for coaches but they are not mandatory. What I’m trying to do, along with other people like British and Irish Lions doctor James Robson, is raise awareness of concussion in sport.

“It’s most important at grassroots level, especially with kids. Coaches, refs, players and parents need to be aware of the signs of concussion. It’s the kids who are highest risk. We bulk them up now between 12 and 18 but we can’t condition their brains.”

Peter gave a simple plea regarding concussion: “If in doubt, sit them out. It’s only a game.”

Peter, who has remarried and now lives in Scotland, said: “I was helping out rugby coaching at a local club but Ben’s death put me off. I’m now a football coach at the club my son Gregor plays for.”