PROFESSOR STEVE CORNELIUS says reducing the duration and number of schoolboy rugby games could help to reduce the risk of injury.
A group of 73 health experts recently submitted an open letter to government ministers in the United Kingdom, calling for tackling to be banned in schools rugby so that the risk of injury to children can be reduced. This led to an inevitable backlash from current and former rugby players and rugby administrators. The governing body for rugby union in England, the Rugby Football Union, explained that it took safety extremely seriously and pointed to various benefits which playing rugby offers for children.
It is hard to deny that rugby players – at all levels – suffer a disproportionately high rate of injury. Professional rugby players are 1,000 times more likely to be injured than mine workers working in some of the most hazardous circumstances. And rugby injuries can range in severity from mild bruising to life threatening.
Studies in the United Kingdom have also shown that rugby players up to the age of 19 years have a 28% risk of getting injured over a 15-match season. Most injuries occur during collisions on the field during tackles, scrums and rucks. So perhaps there may be some merit in removing these high risk aspects from the game.
– Cornelius is from the Sports Law Centre University of Pretoria South Africa