How common is the use of painkillers in modern rugby?


BRIAN O’DRISCOLL LAST night spoke openly about the use of painkillers in the dressing-room during his time as a top-level player. 

“For me, for the last couple of seasons anyway,” said the former Ireland skipper on Off The Ball, “part of my match prep would have been a difene and a couple of co-codamol.”

So what is the culture around painkillers in the game? 

“Firstly I think Brian should be commended,” Andy Dunne, a physiotherapist since he hung up his boots, said today on Heineken Rugby Weekly. I think he was really honest, I think he spoke really sincerely. I don’t think he did it to whip up any kind of a storm. He was just being frank.

“The one area that would have changed from when Brian was playing… first of all it is legal to take a painkiller. It’s fine [for] certain types of pain killer.

“So you’re talking low-level, over-the-counter painkiller tablets you’d buy in a chemist for soreness and stiffness. Brian mentioned it was largely the older players who were carrying knocks and had more mileage on the clock.

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“Brian would have taken the painkillers and so would many of his peers and I would have, if you’re in a little bit of pain. If you’re in significant pain there’s no chance you’re playing a rugby match; you’re not able to.  

“So if you’ve low-level pain because of the physical exertion from the previous week or from training I think it’s fine. What you don’t want to do is start popping diphene.

“And as much as that’s a problem or was a problem in rugby, if you go in to any club in the country and meet a bunch or 50- and 60-year-olds, they’re taking what’s called a prophylactic; it’s a protective diphene. That ought not be the case ever.

“These tablets are not good for your stomach health, they’re not good for you and they ought to be used sparingly. 

“Medicine has advanced and so has the experience from medical teams and they’re very cagey and reluctant to prescribe anti-inflammatories unless there is an inflammation present. And if they do prescribe they do so sparingly and honestly.

“Anything can be abused in any situation but ultimately I thought Brian was really honest and should be commended for it.” 

Listen to the full episode here:

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud