A ban on tackling in rugby matches at schools in the UK and Ireland has been called for by more than 70 doctors and academics in an open letter to ministers, due to fears over the severity of injuries sustained.
The letter says: “The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum. These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries can have short-term, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children.”
The doctors also said there was a relationship between “repeat concussions and cognitive impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities.”
Critics of the proposal have argued that rugby helps to build character, and is more exciting and challenging than other forms of the popular sport, such as touch rugby and tag rugby, which do not include scrums and ruck, or full-on tackling.
Rugby is a compulsory inclusion to the PE curriculum in many secondary schools, and the Rugby Football Union has been running a programme to try and get one million state-school children into the sport. So far, 400 schools have been reached since 2012, and the RFU hopes to reach another 350 by the programme’s end in 2019.