As a devout Rugby Union fan, I often find myself defending my sport, convincing appalled onlookers that the skills outweigh the brutality and that any dangers are catered for. While my belief in the former point remains unshaken, doubts have formed as to the validity of the latter.

While I have always been aware that the game I love has inherent risks, signs have been emerging that these are simply too great to grin and bear. Upon seeing Will Smith star as Dr Bennet Omalu in Concussion in early 2016, documenting Omalu's investigation of the fatal consequences of repeated blows to the head suffered by American footballers, I convinced myself that rugby is less dangerous as players can’t be dumped on their heads and there is a Head Injury Assessment procedure in place.

Deep down though, I knew that more needs to be done. Sixteen months on from my big screen lesson on the NFL’s morbid reality, Dr Omalu turned up in an Irish newspaper, dismissing the possibility of the HIA truly uncovering damage, and stating that children should be kept clear of contact sports. He's not the first to make such a statement, with a recent petition from a group of doctors calling to eliminate tackling from juvenile rugby met with derision from oval ball devotees.

Middle ground

Here we have our problem: the argument needs some Middle Ground. On one side are those who believe such physical activity should either be banned outright or have its contact element stripped away. Opposing them are a community who love the exhilaration and excitement that only this unique and fantastic sport can bring.

Whenever the first party lays out its point of view, the second leaps to a macho-fuelled defence.

This needs to change. One only needs to look at the extent of the injury lists of every professional team to realise that things have gone too far now. As fans, we demand too much of the players we admire and support. Their will to win is compromising their health, not only now but on a long-term basis.

The likes of Dr Omalu aren’t trying to take our game away from us because they’re a bunch of spoilsports, they have seen the effects first-hand of excessive head contact. Every member of the global rugby community, yours truly included, must stop turning a deaf ear and pay them some heed.

Contact can stay

However, nobody can expect rugby, or any contact sport, to either disappear or to transform into a gentle pastime.

The desire to display and witness physical strength and toughness alongside breath-taking speed and skill is something a lot of humans possess, and it’s a desire that will be expressed one way or another. So I'm not about to join those who don’t want players to tackle anymore. But there are measures that can be taken, some of which I will shortly be publishing in a series of articles on the matter. Some of my suggestions might meet scathing reactions, but the inconvenient truth that our beloved sport can damage the heads of those who play it can no longer be skirted around as it thus far has been.