Teen injured in Nova Scotia rugby match says game has risks like any sport

By The Canadian Press
May 7, 2019 - 8:15am

HALIFAX — A Mexican exchange student injured in a high school rugby match in Cape Breton last week says he's recovering well and is keen to return to playing.

"I feel that rugby is a good sport and what happened to me, it's an accident that could've happened to anyone and it could happen in any sport  — every sport has their own risks," said Diego Kuri, whose injury came only days before the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation abruptly cancelled the high school rugby season.

Kuri, a 16-year-old from Mexico City who attends Sydney Academy, was airlifted to a Halifax hospital last Wednesday after colliding with a player from Glace Bay High School.

"I got hit playing, it was a complete accident," Kuri said in an interview by text on Tuesday.

"I was running and the guy hit me in the chin. I fell and hit my head on the turf and that's when I got injured."

Kuri, who is now back in Sydney with his brother and mother, said he hopes to return to the field once he is cleared to play contact sports.

Kuri's injury was mentioned by Stephen MacNeil, chairman of the athletic federation's board of governors, when he explained to reporters on Friday why the season was cancelled over safety and liability concerns.

Although MacNeil didn't draw a direct link, he said administrators couldn't ignore the Sydney incident, along with the death last May of 18-year-old P.E.I. rugby player Brodie McCarthy, in making their ultimate decision.

When asked what should happen with the ban, Kuri gave a careful answer.

"I'm not going to intervene in that decision because it's not my place but, I feel like rugby helps you to be a better athlete and a better person," he said.

Kuri said he and his teammates are still unclear on whether or when the rugby season will resume. 

Meanwhile, officials with Nova Scotia's Education Department were scheduled to meet Tuesday with athletic federation officials in Truro, N.S.

The meeting is aimed at ironing out differences over rugby's status after Education Minister Zach Churchill called on administrators to resume the rugby season on Friday.

Churchill's directive followed a backlash from players, politicians and Rugby Canada.

However, the federation sent out two memos over the weekend questioning the minister's move. One of the memos issued by MacNeil appeared to dispute Churchill's initial statement on the matter.

Churchill said the federation had contravened a governing funding agreement with the province and its decision to ban the sport came without appropriate consultation.

But MacNeil said that his organization met with deputy minister Cathy Montreuil on March 29 to discuss any issues that could potentially come from the decision to discontinue rugby and "she offered no objections.''

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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