This week the British Medical Journal posted an opinion piece which called for tackling and scrums to be banned in school rugby.
The authors have called on the Chief Medical Officer to act on the ‘accumulating evidence’ and advise the UK government to put the interests of children first and ban harmful contact from the school game.
This opinion has polarised views and I for one profoundly disagree with it.
Like many people in Dartford, I grew up playing rugby and whilst we need to ensure there is proper safeguarding and understanding by sports teachers and coaches of the dangers of the game, to remove the contact aspect from rugby would be change the game completely.
Rugby is a very disciplined sport and it enables youngsters to channel their energies in a positive, supervised environment. If we remove the contact element during teenage years we would end up with a far more dangerous situation when it is introduced later in life.
The discipline rugby provides is important and it remains a game where the officials and coaches are treated with respect. The camaraderie of the team game is good for children and to turn rugby into a game of ‘tag’ would end the enjoyment that many schoolchildren have when playing the game. I don’t want to see children turning their backs on sport and playing even more computer games than is currently the case.
Many of our local schools play rugby and serious injuries are very rare. Whilst we need to minimise injuries, the first change should be ensuring teachers and coaches are trained to the highest standard, rather than alter the game.
Rugby is a physical game, if you take away the tackling and scrums you will change the game completely and create a very different sport. We should not be sanitising sport in this way and wrapping our children up in cotton wool is not the right approach. We should instead recognise the dangers contact sport has are far outweighed by the benefit it brings.