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Doctors propose banning tackling in rugby for children’s safety

Twickenham rugby union stadium. Image: Pete Baugh (flickr) - Creative Commons

Twickenham rugby union stadium. Image: Pete Baugh (flickr) – Creative Commons

Over 70 doctors and academics have called for schools to ban tackling in rugby matches due to the risks it poses to children’s health.

In an open letter to ministers they argue that injuries from tackling in Rugby can have long lasting consequences for children.

They argue the majority of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackling and are recommending that schools look at alternatives, such as touch and non-contact rugby.

Alistair Davis, managing director of TryTagRugby, can’t see tackling being removed from the game of rugby.

He sees tag rugby as an option for some children as not all are suited for contact rugby.

He said:

I can’t see a day when the contact forms of the game are not played at the junior level.

Not all kids are suited to contact rugby, so I think there is plenty of scope for schools to play tag rugby and to play it more competitively.

I think if the coaching is up to a high standard and the kids are taught the correct techniques involved in the game then they are no more dangerous than other sports such asfootball or basketball ball or games like that.

Londonmultimedianews asked Londoners for their views.

21 year-old Claire Morgan said:

To an extent I agree, but at the same time it is up to them, if they enjoy the sport, they should have every right to play it.

54 year-old Charles Avery said:

I strongly disagree. They will be at a disadvantage if they haven’t got used to being tackled and tackling when they are younger.

46 year old Alison Martin said:

It’s a rough game so they have to play it and if doctors are going to stop everyone from playing it, the game is going to die.

The proposals to ban tackling put forward by doctors and academics have generated debated and criticism on social media.

The concerns raised by doctors come at a time when Rugby Football Union is on course to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.

The programme began in 2012 and runs until 2019.

It’s reached four hundred schools so far, with another three hundred and fifty to follow.

Mr. Davis suggests that tag rugby could be an option for inner city schools or for those lacking playing fields, as it can be played in smaller areas.

He said:

It’s very good for school playgrounds for instance where you might have an astro pitch with not much room, so it’s a great option to get some rugby played in inner city urban environments where there is not much space.

A spokesman for the Department of Education in England told the BBC:

Team sports, such as rugby, play an important role in developing character.

We expect schools to be aware of the risks associated with sporting activities and to provide a safe environment for pupils.

Whatever the future is for rugby in schools, many agree it is good for awareness to be raised about the risks of concussion, while not changing the core elements of the game.

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