World Rugby Slams Report Calling For Tackling To Be Banned In Schools Rugby

World Rugby are not happy.

The UK’s chief medical officers (CMOs) are once again being urged to protect children from the risks of injuries by removing contact from schools rugby. Prof Allyson Pollock, from Newcastle University has presented new evidence that claims banning tackling would reduce concussion, head and neck injuries.

Last year, the CMOs rejected a call for a ban on tackling in youth rugby, but Prof. Pollock has urged them to reconsider their decision based on the new findings.

Writing in an opinion piece for the BMJ, Prof Pollock and Graham Kirkwood, also from Newcastle University, said that governments had “a duty to protect children from risks of injury and to ensure safety of children” under a United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 19).

“We call on the chief medical officers to act on the evidence and advise the UK government to put the interests of the child before those of corporate professional rugby unions and remove harmful contact from the school game.” Pollock wrote

World Rugby have today responded to Pollock’s report with a strongly worded statement, defending their approach to safety issues.

World Rugby and its member unions take player safety and welfare very seriously and proactively pursue an evidence-based approach to reduce the risk of injury at all levels,” a statement read.
“The continual claims made by Prof Pollock are not based on like-for-like injury statistics and her extreme and alarmist conclusions are simply not supported by the data.
For example, it is well documented that, for most sports, injury rates increase with age and yet the research quoted mixes 9-12 with 18-20 age groups.
“Contrary to Pollock’s opinion, the systematic published studies where injury has been properly defined and monitored, suggest the risk for pre-teens is not unacceptably high compared to other popular sports.
Of course, as with all sports there is some risk of injury associated with rugby and governing bodies have a responsibility to mitigate that risk as far as possible.
“That is why rugby for young people at schools or clubs exists in different forms, both contact and non-contact, and significant work has been undertaken over a number of years to develop a structured progression.
“The responsibility for every sport is to manage the risk as best as possible banning the tackle supports reducing activity and reducing activity is associated with risk.”

Peter Robinson, the father of Ben Robinson, who died at 14 from second impact syndrome following a school game also disagrees with the calls to ban tackling:

“Banning tackling at schools not the answer. Mismanagement of Concussion is the greatest risk in the game.”

Top referee Nigel Owens also rubbished the idea.

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