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Facial fracturesFacial fractures can occur in football following direct head clashes and blows to the face from a fist, arm or elbow (whether accidental or illegal).
Nasal fractures are the most common fractures around the face, and while these usually recovery well, nasoethmoidal fractures can occur where the injury extends through the ethmoid (these can leak cerebrospinal fluid). Other areas include the zygomatic arch and zygomaticomaxillary (cheek) fractures. Alveolar fractures (above teeth) can cause multiple teeth to become loose.
Surgery for elite NRL, AFL and rugby players is a treatment considered more often to ensure stability and a potential earlier return from injury. Darren Lockyer of the Brisbane Broncos had three plates inserted after sustaining a fractured cheekbone in the 2011 semi-final against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
One of the most severe facial fractures affected Richie Barnett of New Zealand, who collided with Wendall Sailor during the Anzac Day rugby league test in 2000 and required surgery which ruled him out for 9 months. Another case involved James Hird during the 2002 AFL season. Brisbane Lions captain, Jonathan Brown, sustained facial fractures on two separate occasions during the 2011 season.
Illegal blows causing facial fractures are often dealt with very harshly by the tribunal or judiciary, for example Luke O'Donnell of the West Tigers was suspended for 11 weeks in 2003 as his late tackle broke an opponent's jaw.