UK doctors call for a ban on tackling in school rugby

UK doctors and academics argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles.
UK doctors and academics argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles.

Doctors and academics in the United Kingdom are calling for all schools to ban tackling in rugby and move to touch or a non-contact version of the game.

More than 70 doctors and academics have signed an open letter to ministers, chief medical officers and children's commissioners in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland asking for tackling to be removed due to lifelong consequences for children, the BBC reports.

They argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles.

"The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum," the letter says.

"These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries can have short-term, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children."

The call to ban tackling comes as the England Rugby Football Union look to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools, the BBC reports. Many secondary schools in the UK deliver contact rugby as a compulsory part of the physical education curriculum from the age of 11.

Professor Allyson Pollock who signed the open letter told the BBC that more children playing the game of rugby means more children suffering concussions.

"If you're thinking of a million children playing every year with this risk of injury you're looking at 300,000 extra injuries a year, including up to 100,000 concussions," she said.

Pollock added that 90 percent of injuries resulted in more than seven days lost from school.

- NZ Herald

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