Time To End The Tackle?

Time-To-End-The-TackleQuestion: How many doctors and academics called for a ban on tackling in school rugby games this week?

Answer: 71 – They believe that injuries caused by tackling can have lifelong consequences for children.

On Tuesday this week a host of doctors and health experts wrote an open letter to government ministers, chief medical officers and children’s commissioners calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in schools. The letter warns that the game carries a high risk of serious, and even fatal, injuries and suggests that it should be replaced with ‘touch rugby’ or non-contact forms of the sport.

This is not the first time that rugby in schools has come under scrutiny. In September last year Colin, my colleague here at Education Quizzes, wrote a blog on the same subject. In it he spoke of the government’s plans to increase participation in school rugby despite evidence suggesting that the game may be dangerous. So, to help you make a decision on whether or not your child should be allowed to play rugby at school or forced to, whether you should be permitted to opt out of participation, or if tackles should be removed from the school game, here are some of the pros and cons associated with school rugby. First we’ll look at the points raised in this week’s letter:

  • The risk of serious injuries to children is high.
  • Tackles are where most injuries take place.
  • Concussion is relatively common and repeat concussion can harm a child’s development.
  • Injuries can cause a child to miss school and so their education is interrupted.
  • The government has a duty to inform children of the risks and this is being neglected.
  • They also have a duty to protect children from injury. By making rugby compulsory they are failing to do so.

So there we have it – six convincing arguments for the removal, if not of rugby then of tackling, from school playing fields.  But before you make up your mind, let’s hear the other side of the debate:

  • Although the risk of injury is real, steps have been taken (teaching of both players and referees) to protect children and make the game safer.
  • All sports carry a risk. Footballers who head the ball, for example, may suffer concussion. Should then all sports be banned?
  • Rugby encourages teamwork, self-discipline and self-confidence.
  • The majority of parents are happy for their child to play rugby. In a recent survey 8 out of ten parents would not withdraw their child from the game.
  • Rugby is a good way to get physical exercise which increases both fitness and strength.
  • Perhaps the most important argument of all – rugby is fun!

So there you have it – some information to help you reach a decision. Is rugby in schools a good or a bad thing? Is it part of the sports programme in your child’s school, and if so, are you happy for them to play the game?  Let us know what you think – we’d love to hear from you.

There are lots of decisions you have to make as a parent so any help is always welcome! That’s where EQ’s Knowledge Bank comes in. It’s an educational resource which aims to answer any questions parents might have. And not only do we have loads of information on education, we also offer tips and advice on other aspects of parenting, like raising confident children or finding suitable activities for the school holidays. Why not take a look?

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