Question: Should rugby be banned in schools?
Answer: Yes say some researchers, no say the government
It is an irrefutable fact that decisions should be based on evidence whenever possible yet when it comes to injuries caused by playing rugby at school there is a startling absence of statistics. It seems that nobody has bothered to keep records.
In every small office throughout the land there is a statutory requirement to record when an adult employee cuts his/her finger opening a letter but no one in the UK knows how many of our school children are seriously injured each year playing rugby.
In a recent report published in the British Medical Journal, Professor Allyson Pollock suggests that injury surveillance and prevention programmes need to be established urgently. The same report submits that about 1 in 8 child and adolescent rugby players sustain injuries that are serious enough to see them miss at least 7 days playing EVERY SEASON.
Concussion is the most serious problem but it is not the only one. A prominent insurance company (QBE) sees fit to publish a list of no less than five typical rugby related injuries.
Although our government cannot lay its hands on statistics regarding the quantity or severity of rugby playing accidents in schools it nevertheless chooses rugby as one of the five sports it actively encourages as a way of increasing the prominence of competitive sport.
What if the government has got it wrong? What if we are told that rugby is a good thing when actually it is harming thousands of school children. Far be it from me to say the government has got it wrong but the point is, it doesn’t know if it has got it wrong because it hasn’t got the facts.
This raises the question of who has the right to decide whether your children play rugby at school. Should it be the government, schools, parents or children themselves? Who should decide whether the rewards of rugby outweigh the risks to long-term health?
For further reading, you may find the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank of interest. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer the questions asked by parents. Whether it’s the details of the National Curriculum or tips on child discipline, we have a library of knowledge at your fingertips! Well worth a look, for any parent.
One thing is certain, your children deserve to know that rugby involves risk. Here are a few questions you might like to discuss with them:
- Does your school encourage rugby?
- Have your teachers told you of any risks involved?
- Has anyone at your school been injured playing rugby?
- Have you an option to opt-out?
- Do you WANT to opt-out?
I agree that records should be kept of injuries in schools – and quite a few schools do have to file reports when a child is injured – but there can be injuries with any sport so I don’t think banning rugby would be the answer! Even though it is a contact sport, each sport has its own risks and unless schools banned sports altogether there will always be risks of injuries!
Thanks Kathleen, I have no doubt that schools have to keep records of injuries just as businesses do but it seems incredible to me that this information is not then gathered together in a national database so that the government can draw meaningful conclusions. I also agree that other sports might be dangerous but we just don’t know. If, say, there were 10 times more injuries playing rugby than there were playing football then that would be a good reason to recommend football over rugby, don’t you think?
My only reason for singling out rugby was the weight of medical opinion and recent reports that suggests rugby has serious implications for the long-term health of youngsters.
I think at younger ages they should play less serious forms like touch rugby. I am not personally a fan of it but schools need to focus on safety first that’s my opinion, though I would not ban it either.
I feel strongly that children must be allowed to opt out of a sport which they perceive as dangerous. Rugby is great for the big, burly guys, but a source of dread to the smaller , less sporty ones. If they are allowed to opt for an alternative – football, basket ball, or even (dare I say it) Bridge, Chess.
Schools should keep an eye out for sadistically – minded sports teachers! Allowance needs to be made for the physical capabilities of any child at any stage, and they should not be forced beyond that.