Call to ban tackling in children’s rugby | Sunday Observer

Call to ban tackling in children’s rugby

27 December, 2020

Tackling in children’s rugby should be banned to prevent potentially devastating head injuries, a group of academics at British universities said, calling for government intervention on the issue.

Academics from Oxford Brookes, Newcastle and Winchester universities have written an open letter to all four chief medical officers in the UK calling for an end to tackling for school-aged children.

“Concern about injuries and traumatic brain injury in youth sport is of growing international concern, including in rugby union and rugby league,” the letter said.

It points to efforts in the United States and Britain to ban or limit heading of the ball in football. The letter refers to research by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) that they say highlights the lack of evidence for any “discernible physical health benefits” from full contact rugby compared with non-contact forms of the game.

“It is now well-established that young players under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable to concussive injuries because of the maturing and the dynamic neurophysiological state of the adolescent brain,” the letter said.

“We are concerned that in failing to act to protect children from the tackle in the school game and by allowing the sport’s governing bodies to decide what, if any, information to collect, the British government is exposing children to significant risk.” (AFP)