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Rugby Safety in Schools

Getting into sports from a young age is a great thing and can set the tone for being fit and healthy for the rest of your life. As with all sports though, there is a risk of injury and leading public health doctors have warned a government drive to boost participation in Rugby in schools risk more children getting seriously hurt. In March 2016 Professor Allyson Pollock and her colleagues at Queen Mary University of London say the contact sport of rugby is too dangerous, and although not calling for a ban, they do want more safeguards to protect young players. The Rugby Football Union however, argues that the physical and social aspects of rugby “massively outweigh any potential drawbacks” and that safety is already taken extremely seriously. Professor Pollock argues that statistics show 1 in 8 children suffer an injury serious enough to be kept off the pitch for a week in a season, and that injury prevention and surveillance programmes should be established in schools. Writing in the British Medical Journal, she argues that government plans to promote more sport such as rugby is worrying as children take longer to fully recover from injury and are more susceptible to concussion. She argues that not enough is being done to monitor and prevent injuries. Understandably this view has been criticised by many, and the former English Rugby Union hooker Brian Moore has defended rugby on the basis that there is no evidence it is more dangerous than any other sport. Moore also argues that the benefits of competitive sport far outweigh the risks, yet are not mentioned such as health, fitness, confidence and socialization. The Rugby Football Union has argued a number of safeguards are already in place such as investment in proper facilities, first aid and medical supplies and fully trained coaches. Scrums and tackles are generally considered to be the most dangerous aspects of rugby. The Rugby Football Union argue that plays such as scrums are introduced gradually and initially only contain three players per side and are uncontested. They state that maximum safety is of paramount importance and that play is structured progressively from the under 7s to the under 18s. It’s clear that safety for sport should be a top priority for regulators for both adults and children, and there is a fine line between unnecessary risk and accepting that injuries will sometimes occur during competitive sports and that most people accept this. Do you think that schools participating in contact sports such as rugby are taking too many risks and that more safeguards need to be in place, or is the sports world safe and progressive enough with some people just being over-cautious?