Sports Shorts

Concussion diagnostic test using saliva is a ‘real game changer’

News and reactions from the world of sport, including a new ban for ex-Fifa president Sepp Blatter

1

Rugby Union

Rugby saliva test trial 94% accurate

A three-year trial in elite men’s rugby union has found that concussion can be accurately diagnosed using a pitchside saliva test. 

In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, samples were taken from 156 Premiership and Championship players who had head injury assessments. Using “microscopic DNA markers in saliva” the tests predicted the conventional assessment result with 94% accuracy.

Described as a “real game changer”, the study was led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, and Marker Diagnostics. The research has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine

The method of using saliva samples paves the way for the first non-invasive clinical test for concussion for use in sport and other settings. Dr Simon Kemp, the RFU’s medical services director, told BBC Sport that the study’s findings were “incredibly exciting” and said the potential for the test was “far bigger than rugby”. 

2

Football 

Part-timers Brora Rangers stun Hearts in Scottish Cup

Highland League part-time team Brora Rangers are through to the third round of the Scottish Cup after a remarkable 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Hearts. 

The result was described as “one of the biggest shocks in Scottish Cup history” by BBC Sport with Hearts being the beaten finalists for the past two years and Brora having not played a game since early January due to the suspension of the league season. 

Brora boss Steven Mackay said “we had no right whatsoever to win this game - I’m just so privileged to be manager of such an incredible team”.

3

Tennis 

Murray out of Miami Open after freak groin injury 

Tennis star Andy Murray has had to endure some tough times due to his hip problems over the past few years. Now he’s trying to come to terms with a groin injury which has forced him to withdraw from the Miami Open. 

The three-time major champion, 33, has no idea how the injury occurred. “It’s a bit puzzling,” he said. “I don’t know where it came from and why it happened. It is obviously very frustrating and a bit demoralising.”

4

Football 

Fifa hand new six-year ban to Blatter 

Fifa’s ex-president Sepp Blatter has been handed a new ban until 2028 by world football’s governing body. 

The 85-year-old was already serving a suspension for multiple breaches of Fifa’s ethics code which was due to expire in October. He is now banned for a further six years and eight months. 

The same length of suspension has also been imposed on Fifa’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke and will come into effect in October 2025. Blatter and Valcke were also fined £780,000.

5

Rugby Union

McGeechan: Lions tour in South Africa maintains ‘sporting integrity’

The British & Irish Lions are keen to go ahead with the scheduled summer tour of South Africa - despite recent reports suggesting that the series could be played in the UK or even Australia.  

In a statement the Lions and SA Rugby confirmed they are “aligned” on delivering the series in the scheduled playing window. As per the current schedule the Lions play a “home” game against Japan in Edinburgh on 26 June then travel to South Africa for an eight-match tour.

Former Lions head coach Ian McGeechan says it was the “right decision” to play in South Africa and the series can “put a smile back on all our faces”. Writing in The Telegraph, he added: “The Lions are a touring entity, so actually playing games around South Africa maintains that sporting integrity.”

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