Amidst the retirements of Schalk Brits and Chris Wyles, one departure from Saracens went a little under the radar following their Aviva Premiership title on Saturday and that was the of openside flanker Matt Hankin.
Saracens confirmed their list of departing players on Tuesday and Hankin’s name was among those who will be leaving Allianz Park this summer.
The player has had a long-running battle to recover from concussion and one which he candidly shone light upon in an interview with the RPA, describing the injury as making him feel anxious, isolated and a prisoner in his own home.
The 25-year-old was a part of the England U20 side that won the Junior World Championship in 2013 and had looked to be on a path to higher honours, and though Saracens have shown great patience to try and get him back to full health and ready to play again, this is a decision which has clearly been made with the player’s future health in mind.
Although Hankin has not officially confirmed his retirement yet and may well still be hopeful of recovering from the effects of concussions that continue to dog him, the news comes less than a year after another Saracens openside was forced to retire early, when a persistent neck injury derailed the equally promising career of Will Fraser.
Rugby’s battle with concussions was given a boost recently, with the news that a new tackle law will be trialled during the World Rugby U20 Trophy, where players will not be allowed to tackle above the nipple line of a ball-carrier, in the hopes this will lower the number of high collisions in the game.
If it helps prevent further cases like Hankin’s, it’s well worth trialling.