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Former Scotland international Craig Chalmers reveals cancer diagnosis

By David Ferguson
Craig Chalmers of Scotland is tackled by Brian O''Meara, #9, of Ireland during the Five Nations match at Murrayfield. Scotland beat Ireland 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Redington /Allsport

Former Scotland and British and Irish Lions stand-off Craig Chalmers has revealed that he is suffering from prostate cancer.

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The 55-year-old, who lives and works in London, was given the diagnosis on Friday after several weeks of tests, but is optimistic about the prognosis. He said: “It was a shock and it really hits you to hear the C word, but it is what it is and I’ve been lucky really, because since I turned 50 I’ve had annual tests and so despite having symptoms whatsoever it was picked up.

“It has been a difficult time because after my usual blood test check-up, the doctor was back in touch while I was on holiday to say I should have some tests, and it became obvious that something wasn’t right. You spend days thinking and worrying about what it might be, and I had MRI tests and things, and then last week they said ‘yes, it’s prostate cancer’. It’s confined to the prostate at the moment so I have options for treatment, whether I have radiotherapy or an operation, and I’ll discuss that with my surgeon on Friday and we’ll take it from there.

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“But I do consider myself lucky to have found it early. My PSA number (prostate specific antigen) test went up this year and that was how they spotted it, so the big message in this for me and everyone really is that you have to get yourself tested. I have a good network of family and friends around me and they will help me get through this, but it’s important that we talk about things like this. I think men in their 50s do not speak about personal things much with each other, and when you come up against something like this you realise how important it is to talk and encourage each other to look after your health.”

One of the people Chalmers turned to is former teammate Kenny Logan, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and opted to undergo an operation to remove his prostate. Another former Scotland player who went public about his own diagnosis was John Rutherford, another former stand-off, and he remains a supporter of Prostate charities after surviving his diagnosis, but only after losing his brother to the disease.

A father and grandfather, Chalmers insisted: “I’ve been lucky because I’ve been getting tested every year but I now understand better than I did, as Kenny and John did, how important it is to get yourself tested regularly because otherwise how would you catch it early?

“Kenny has been brilliant and he has known since my first high PSA test. He has been through it, so that helps, having someone who knows what the options are and the steps you take. It has been a tough few weeks but now I’m happier that I know what it is and we can move on and get it operated on. The way I’m thinking right now, I think I’m going to go down the operation route, and get it out of me, but we’ll see what the surgeon says before I made any decisions.”

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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