As you may have seen in this morning’s news and papers more than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.

In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children. They argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.

Read the BBC news take on the story here

Headway UK has issued a press release stating their position on this issue

Calls to improve the safety of school rugby have been cautiously welcomed by Headway UK, although the charity has stopped short of calling for a ban on all tackling for those under 18.”

Here are some excerpts from the press release.

“We can see the merit in limiting contact in rugby in younger children, but it is difficult to define where the line should be drawn in terms of at what age players should be introduced to full-contact rugby,” said Luke Griggs, Director of Communications.”

“It is vital to ensure players are taught the correct tackling techniques in rugby. If they are prevented from tackling until they are 18, they will be ill-prepared for adult rugby and would be more likely to sustain serious injury as a result.”

“Rugby has committed to improving concussion awareness and protocols, and a significant amount of change has occurred over the past few years. The sport has to take credit for this, although it is clear the momentum needs to be maintained with awareness and education campaigns at grassroots level. This includes schools and we would like to see the government provide concussion awareness training to all teachers – not just those conducting the sports lessons.”

Oxford Head Injury Services CEO Jamie Miller had this to say on the subject

” As a charity that works with head Injury survivors, we are all well aware that everyday life is full of risk, and we are well placed to see the consequences and impact of serious head injuries.So we would echo Headway UK’s comments on this issue. We would always advise people who are undertaking an activity that involves risk, to be aware of the risk and use the proper equipment to minimise the potential for injury, if you are cycling wear a helmet, climbing a mountain, use the proper equipment.

We believe that in this case the answer is not to preclude or ban the entire activity or an aspect of the activity because it involves an element of risk.

To make the most of all our lives we need to and will take risks, controlled risk taking is essential in our development in gaining knowledge and new experiences, in part risk taking has defined us as a species and we would be lesser beings without it”