There's been a call for rugby players to donate their brains to science to help boffins suss the long-term effects of all that rough and tumble.
As usual with anything rugby, New Zealand leads the world here. Befitting the keen anticipation attending most aspects of our game, we were first out of the blocks when the whole All Blacks squad surrendered their grey matter just prior to the fateful semifinal against England in the World Cup.
Some say this was woefully bad-timing, but the Poms weren't complaining.
No one's keen on picking over yesterday's bones, but re the English game, lack of a functioning organ in the ABs' upstairs departments meant our only response to a rampant English onslaught was to robotically serve up the same-old, same-old.
Apparently the pear-shaped first-half spurred coach Shag Hansen into delivering a seriously impassioned half-time team-talk, but it's a hard-ask when the team's brains are AWOL, even if in the interests of scientific trail-blazing. So the second half replicated the first, and we vainly kept on trying to twinkle-toe ourselves through an impregnable Great Wall of England.
But here's the thing. Despite his many previous years of staunch service, Shag had to put up his hand and mea culpa, too.
Why? Because of the dreaded Game Plan. Back in the days, if anyone had bothered to ask a coach – prior to any up-coming match – what the Game Plan was, the coach's response would have been a quizzical look tinged with apprehension lest the inquisitor be a sandwich short of a picnic.
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Back then, if there had been any such thing as a Game Plan, it would have been along the lines of: "Well boys, here's our Game Plan, which I've thought long and hard about and lost many a good night's sleep over: Go out there and play some real good footy so that at the full time whistle we have more points on the board than them."
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See, the old KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid. But it gave the players rope to respond to changing situations.
But no, a bunch of muckleworzers – quite possibly a coterie of Auckland City urban planners looking for something else to sabotage – started insisting that no self-respecting coach should be seen without a Game Plan. So the poor duped coaches started cobbling up plans they and the players then foolishly felt obliged to stick to irrespective. As per the English semifinal, the result is tragically history. We didn't adapt to events as they happened, and duly got monstered.
Didn't they read Sun Tzu! Sun Tzu was an honourable Chinese military man from a few millennia ago who distilled a lifetime's experience of mucking around on battlefields into a very handy pocket manual for would-be combatants. He had pithy sayings like (I paraphrase here): "The most victorious battle is the one you didn't have to fight."
See, very clever. It meant you faced down and out-witted your opponent without having to resort to any actual unnecessary and messy hands-on argy bargy. Stuff like that.
The sagacious Sun Tzu also said (again I paraphrase): "By all means have a plan, but 30 seconds into the actual battle be prepared to biff it and try something else, because chances are so many unforeseeables will suddenly rear up you won't know Arthur from Martha."
The Prussian general Von Clausewitz termed this state of affairs the "fog of war" - hopelessly engulfing and blinding all participants. Drawing another breath suddenly becomes the ultimate game plan.
Unfortunately the Fog of War now also pervades so much of everyday existence it should really be called the Fog of Peace, if only there wasn't still so much conflict.
The Industrial Revolution was a game plan that gave us the power to trash the planet. The existential battle now is against its own lethality. Essentially, it's adapt, or die in a ditch.
Climate Change, anyone?