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$100m ACC payout for crippled rugby players

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    $100m ACC payout for crippled rugby players

    $100m ACC payout for crippled rugby players

    Crippling injuries to 17 rugby players in the past three years are expected to cost almost $100 million in lifetime accident compensation.

    Accident Insurance Minister Leanne Dalziel has listed estimated costs of $94 million, excluding GST, for back, head and neck injuries.

    Five claims in the year to June were likely to cost $26 million over the lives of the disabled players, she said in answer to a parliamentary question by Act MP Rodney Hide.

    Six claims in each of the previous two years were expected to cost $29 million and $39 million respectively.

    Ms Dalziel said a programme run by the Rugby Union with Accident Compensation Corporation support was preventing at least one serious spinal injury each year, with an estimated saving of $9.2 million.

    The Rugby Foundation, a charity for seriously injured players, reports that no one has been permanently injured this season, though 48-year-old Avondale police officer Pita Fuafiva died after a match in June.

    But the Accident Compensation Corporation said yesterday that the number of new "entitlement" claims by players with moderate to serious injuries rose in the year to June, to 5036 from 4700, after falling from 6900 in 1996.

    The corporation cannot explain the increase, in a year when former All Black hooker Norm Hewitt was rebuked by Associate ACC Minister Ruth Dyson for playing on for Wellington after breaking his arm in an NPC final.

    Claims by rugby league players fell by 11 per cent to 520, well down from 1186 in 1996.

    The director of the Burwood spinal unit in Christchurch, Dr Richard Acland, believed the absence of permanent injuries this year was a statistical aberration. Australian players operating under the same rules had had an increase in injuries.

    Rugby Foundation chief executive Rocky Patterson agreed serious injuries remained a big concern, but noted that more than 100,000 people played rugby each weekend.

    The Rugby Union pays accident compensation for injured professional players up to just over $1 million and has insurance cover for amateurs of $125,000 for permanent disability and $50,000 for death.

    It also joined the Accident Compensation Corporation this year in raising $380,000 for prevention moves, including compulsory clinics for 9000 rugby coaches and referees.

    Mr Hide called for greater attention to rule changes to minimise injuries, although he acknowledged that there would always be a risk of getting hurt in a contact sport. Rugby Union accident prevention manager Ken Quarrie said the game and its rules were under constant scrutiny for ways of improving safety. Before the scrummaging rules were tightened up with "crouch, hold and engage" requirements, 45 per cent of spinal injuries treated at Burwood were from scrums, compared with 33 per cent from tackles.

    Now the figures were 29 per cent from scrums and 58 per cent from tackles.

    Mr Quarrie, a rugby fitness trainer with a masters degree in physical education, said a research programme was planned for next season in which every tackle in the Super 12 competition would be studied in a search for accident prevention clues.

    He added that 54 per cent of spinal injuries were caused by motor smashes and 24 per cent by falls, compared with about 11 per cent from sports.

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    Wow, I wish ACC considered my injury was worth that much - I did mine driving and not playing the precious National sport of rugby - also they shovelled me off to work 3 months after accident in an ambulance while still in a state of deep shock and depression and as I "proved I could work" ACC refuses to pay any earnings compensation when I'm not working - It is well known amongst spinal patients that ACC's goal is to pay as little as possible and to hide benefits from people - I was never told of car loans even though they sent me back to work (I was the only one who returned to work out of my fellow inmates) and so paid for a car out of the $17,000 lump sum compensation paid at the time - this was NOT supposed to be the purpose of the $17,000 - after 15 years I did eventually get my first car loan in 1995



      I was injured (c7) playing rugby. Too bad the league in Anchorage, AK isn't as well funded as the Kiwi's... I didn't get anything from USA rugby either. Oh well.