“TimeOutBlue”

COMMENT:

According to World Rugby, scrum caps and head guards that comply with world rugby standards can prevent soft tissue injuries to the head and ears.

There is no proof however, that they protect against concussion.

For a child playing contact sport, isn't any level of protection worth having? And shouldn't it be something we make compulsory for junior rugby, at the very least?

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As a mother of a rugby-mad son, any level of protection is enough of a reason for him to wear headgear. But unfortunately there seems to be a stigma around wearing headgear when you're nine.

When I suggested the 9-year-old wear headgear for his rugby season this year he baulked at the idea. His reply was: "I don't need it, I'll be a tough guy".

Relax little man.

I've spoken to a few parents who, 1) value the idea of their child wearing headguards during a game, and 2) have been faced with the same response from their budding rugby players.

This is not something Mr 9 has learned at home. I assume it's something he's picked up while playing tackle rugby - not at a training or at a game - but rather with his mates in his spare time, which makes me question what we, as adults are saying or doing in front of kids to make them feel as though wearing headgear isn't the "cool" thing to do on the rugby field.

Mr 9 has quickly come to realise that following what others claim as "tough" has no value to our lives and now has no hesitation in putting his headgear on before training and game day. No one in his team mocks him for it, which again strengthens my argument that it's more of a "schoolyard" type of chat.

Mr 9 is not new to contact sport. He first played tackle rugby league when he was 6 in Western Australia. In his competition it was compulsory for junior league players to wear headguards, putting as much importance on the safety gear as mouthguards.

Wearing headgear was normalised. There was no talk of anyone being weaker than others because they wore it.

This is what I think should be done here because surely any level of protection has to be a positive thing, right? Generally speaking, a child who suffers less injuries while playing a sport, no matter the gravity, will likely enjoy it more.

According to a group of Boston scientists who are some of the world's leading experts on head injuries in sport, no children should play contact sport before the age of 12 because the younger you start sports like rugby and American football, the greater your chances of suffering degenerative brain diseases.

In theory, not having contact sport as an option for children under 12 makes sense but that let's be honest, it's not going to stop kids from being kids in their spare time. Those who enjoy the rough and tumble will always find a way to do just that and in my view, contact sport provides a more controlled setting for those who choose it.

What I'm more supportive of is encouraging the wearing of headgear in competition, teaching children correct technique and ensuring they know the importance of it.

Claims that headgear does nothing to protect a child's head because it won't stop a concussion is redundant. If it prevents some type of injury, let's normalise it - and allow kids to wear it without judgement.