Former England captain and Harlequins FC No. 8 Nick Easter has joined the chorus of a growing opposition to raise concerns about the gym monkey tradition that has become rife in the sport in the academy level amid fears that many careers will be cut short by brutal on field collisions in the future.
The 36 year old, who only became a professional eleven seasons ago and never had any formal academy training, believes that the size of the youngsters who are now making their way into the sport are a cause for concern. According to reports, the England Under-18 side that played against Wales in 2014 was heavier – man for man – than the senior England side that Will Carling led to the Rugby World Cup final in 1991.
According to Nick Easter, if he had been playing at club and international level week in and week out at 20 or 21 years of age in a position that requires a lot of attrition like No. 8, he is not sure that his body would be in the same condition as it is now. He added that is what most youngsters that are coming through fear. These players are two to three stones heavier than the previous generations of Under-18 sides and yet, they are running at much higher speeds which make a collision even more dangerous.
Easter added that while it is good they are looking after their muscles and having prtein shakes, they must remember that other areas of their body are not developing at the same rate and are taking a lot of hits and the repercussions for those areas might be severe in the future.
Nick Easter has called for the RFU to come up with a solution and a proper diet for all the young players.