Two leading injury experts have argued that certain parts of the game of rugby should be omitted at underage level to prevent serious injuries.
In an opinion piece published in the British Medical Journal, Alyson Pollock and Graham Kirkwood from the Institute of Health at Newcastle University argue that most injuries in youth rugby occur due to collision elements of the game.
They believe that tackles and scrums should be forbidden in school games to prevent harm to young players. They argue that by removing these elements involving collision could “reduce and mitigate the risk of injury” in pupils.
They are calling on the UK government to “put the interests of the child before the interests of corporate professional rugby unions and remove the tackle and other forms of harmful contact from the school game”.
Ms Pollock who has been researching rugby injuries for more than ten years and her senior research associate Mr Kirkwood say the government have a “duty to protect children from risks of injury”.
They hope chief medical officers will support their campaign and advise the government to implement the ban.
“We call on the chief medical officers to act on the evidence and advise the UK government to put the interests of the child before those of corporate professional rugby unions and remove harmful contact from the school game,” they wrote.
“Most injuries in youth rugby are because of the collision elements of the game, mainly the tackle.
“In March 2016, scientists and doctors from the Sport Collision Injury Collective called for the tackle and other forms of harmful contact to be removed from school rugby. The data in support of the call is compelling.”
A ban on tackling in youth rugby was proposed last year, however, it was rejected by senior medical officers.
Concussion is a worry for many parents and coaches and according to previous research, rugby, along with ice hockey and American football, have the highest concussion rates.
The experts from Newcastle University argue that a history of concussion is associated with the “lowering of a person’s life chances” across a number of measures including low educational achievement and premature death.
They also pointed out that a head injury is linked to an increased risk of dementia.
They cited a new rule introduced in Canada which prevents “body checking” or deliberate contact with another player during ice hockey games for players aged under 13.
What do you think mums? Would you like to see a ban introduced here in Ireland? Let us know.