Doctors call for rugby tackling ban in British schools| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 12 August 2022 09:27 GMT

Doctors call for rugby tackling ban in British schools

(MENAFN- AFP) Over 70 doctors and medical experts sent an open letter to the British government on Wednesday calling for tackling to be banned in school rugby matches.

They warned that school rugby poses a high risk of serious injury and urged educational institutions to instead adopt touch rugby or non-contact rugby.

The letter, signed by sport scholars, academics, doctors and public health professionals, said studies show that the risks of injuries for under-18s playing rugby "are high and injuries are often serious".

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

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

The letted noted that many British secondary schools, for students aged 11-18, offered full-contact rugby as a compulsory sporting activity.

It also warned of the dangers of concussion and noted that people who have previously suffered concussion are more likely to suffer it again.

"A link has been found between repeat concussions and cognitive impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities, as well as longer term problems," the letter added.

"Children take longer to recover to normal levels on measures of memory, reaction speed and post-concussive symptoms than adults."

The letter asserted that the government has a duty to inform children about the risks of injury enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

One of the letter's signatories, Allyson Pollock from London's Queen Mary University, said: "Children are being left exposed to serious and catastrophic risk of injury."

The letter drew a predictably forthright reaction from professional players.

"Let's not give these 70 so-called experts the time of day," England and Saracens scrum-half Richard Wrigglesworth wrote on Twitter.

"Seventy are outnumbered by thousands of people with real knowledge on the benefits of rugby!"

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who has suffered several concussions during his career, dismissed the idea of a tackling ban.

"I don't think you can play rugby without tackling. Then it's not going to be rugby," the Leinster number 10 told Irish radio station Today.

"The IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union), who look after us unbelievably well, are taking every measure to make sure that player welfare is top of the list and they're doing everything they can.

"They're actually leading the way internationally with looking after players with concussion."

Former England captain Will Carling said there were dangers inherent in every sport, tweeting: "So I presume we play cricket with soft ball, no tackling in football, sponge sticks in hockey etc etc"

Austin Healey, the ex-England scrum-half, described touch rugby as a "waste of time".

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