Female rugby players more likely to suffer brain injuries

Despite the greater likelihood for women to suffer a brain injury, it is male athletes who are given priority when it comes to medical care and research into detection and prevention.

Video Transcript

JESSICA BALDWIN: Preparing for the big day. England's Red Roses will take on France, watched by what's expected to be a record television audience. Rugby is the fastest-growing sport for women in the UK, and globally, it's played by 2.7 million women and girls. Former player Nic Evans will be watching and hoping any injuries are taken more seriously now than a decade ago when she played for Wales.

NIC EVANS: I used to get really quite, quite regular concussions. But it wouldn't be something that I'd necessarily share with a coach. I wouldn't want to be taken off the pitch. I wouldn't want to have had a week out or three weeks out.

JESSICA BALDWIN: Parliament is investigating links between concussion in sport and long term brain injury inquiry.

- Inquiry into concussion in sport.

JESSICA BALDWIN: Doctors told a committee last month that women are twice as likely as men to suffer concussions in sports. Despite the greater likelihood for women to suffer brain injury, it's male athletes who are given priority when it comes to medical care and research into detection and prevention.

NEIL PEARCE: There is cause for concern, because basically, on the average, woman's heads are smaller. It's a hypothesis that's been raised. But as far as I know, no one has done a proper study on it so far.

JESSICA BALDWIN: Besides smaller heads and necks, there are other theories about why women's concussion levels are higher. Hormones, or women more unlikely to report a concussion. At this amateur practice session, the coaches use touch based training, sparing the tackle and teaching the girls how to fall safely as many concussions are caused by head slapping the ground. Parents are warned to watch for any signs of concussion, and the players themselves are very aware.

ROSE HALSTAD: The most important thing is that you're safe, and that you don't go back to play too soon. Because especially repeated concussions, they can be devastating long term.

JESSICA BALDWIN: The benefits of exercise are well-documented. And to ensure the joy of playing remains, the sport of rugby is looking to reduce risks as the ultimate goal. Jessica Baldwin, Al Jazeera, [INAUDIBLE] England.