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Dad of Carrickfergus pupil Ben Robinson who died on rugby pitch to sue

By David Young

Published 29/10/2016

Tragedy: Ben Robinson
Tragedy: Ben Robinson

The family of Ben Robinson, the Carrickfergus boy who died in 2011 while playing school rugby, have begun legal action for negligence against a host of rugby organisations.

The High Court documents reveal that the family are suing the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), World Rugby, Carrickfergus Grammar School, Ulster Rugby, the teenager's rugby coach and the match referee.

Ben (14) was the first person in Northern Ireland to die from what is now known as 'second impact syndrome,' having been sent back into action in a junior rugby match between his school, Carrickfergus Grammar, and Dalriada, for a further 25 minutes after sustaining a severe blow to the head during the match on January 29, 2011.

The teenager died of his injuries two days later in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Since Ben's death, his father Peter has become a high-profile campaigner, raising awareness of the potentially lethal effects of concussion.

In a statement released to the media last night, solicitors acting for Ben's parents, Peter Robinson and Karen Walton, said: "Benjamin sustained a serious head injury at Carrickfergus Grammar School during a Medallion Shield rugby match on 29th January 2011.

"There were numerous opportunities for those in charge to notice that Benjamin had sustained several concussive-type head injuries.

"It is the case of Benjamin's parents and family that Carrickfergus Grammar School, the IRFU, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU and World Rugby were in charge of disseminating information with regard to the risks of concussion in rugby, and therefore, the coach of the schoolboy rugby team and the referee should have been aware, or should have had the means of being aware, that concussion is dangerous and could result in death."

The solicitor's statement adds that: "The coach and the referee were responsible for the safety of the players and those in control administratively: the School, the IRFU, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU and World Rugby, were responsible for ensuring that all parties were aware of the dangers of head injuries sustained playing rugby."

The legal action is understood to be the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland concerning a death due to second impact syndrome.

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