A very recent urge has been made by as many as 70 health experts (1) and doctors to call a ban on the act of rugby tackling in schools across the UK and Ireland (2). This comes down to the result of a “high risk of serious injury among under-18s.” (3) Along with tackling becoming a ban, this also applies to other contact within the sport-although schools will be encouraged to move to this or touch versions of the game (4). Such injuries that occur within school rugby include: concussions, fractures, both head and spinal injuries, ligamentous tears and shoulder dislocations- all of which can “have short-term, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children” (5). However, according to Rugby Football Union (RFU), the correct quality of coaching and training will help to reduce the risk of injuries among its players- along with “correct medical support and appropriate player behaviour” (6).
2, 5: Sellgren, K. (2016) Doctors urge schools to ban tackling in rugby. BBC News, available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35696238 [accessed 2nd March 2016]
1, 4: Quinn, B. (2016) UK experts call for ban on tackling in school rugby. The Guardian online, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/mar/02/uk-health-experts-call-for-ban-on-tackling-in-school-rugby [accessed 2nd march 2016]
3, 6: Burman, J. (2016) Doctors plead with Government to ban tackling in school rugby games. Daily Express online, available at: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/649042/Doctors-Health-Officials-Government-Rugby-Concussions-Schools-Children-18-year-old [accessed 2nd March 2016]
As for this news story, I had very mixed feelings about it before we started looking more in depth at it. For instance, I knew that this news story would gather a lot of attention because of how many people it would affect and how it made me question the enforcement of it. On the flip side though, it did made immediately make me wonder why it was even headline news because from looking at the headline it looked like just another proposal that is among many others made like this so frequently. However, after looking deeper into this it made me notice lots of different connections and link to it. For example, it highlights how different sports were taught overtime in schools and as an actual event. Many schools nowadays are very health-and-safety conscious and focus more on technique and how to perform these techniques safely. This overall element makes me ask whether the health professionals and doctors are genuinely concerned about this issue o if they are overreacting slightly over something that is kind of being taken care of by schools themselves.
Also, this news story relates to not only the Rio 2016 Olympic games happening this year but also another recent story related to the Rio 2016 games. This was how Russia has been banned from competing in the Rio 2016 games due to doping among most athletes. Even both these two are completely different stories, they are both share the same situation- which means that this one story could probably have a knock-on affect for these events in the future: whether non-contact rugby will remain in schools or even carry through to the Olympic games- and whether Russia will or will not be participating in any future athletics due to their doping history.
However, it’s not just rugby that poses these kinds of injury risks; all sports have some form of injury risk. And it turns out that its not just rugby that are taking these measures to reduce injuries and concussions: Boxing has been known to ensure that headgear are removed as a method of preventing concussions too. As a result of this, it makes me also question why rugby is the only sport that has been targeted to reveal the changes that are being made in it. In my opinion, the headgear within boxing should be making headline news because it should pose even more of a injury risk than doing anyone a favour.
It also turns out that many players or athletes who have had repeated and/or significant injuries (especially to the head) will, overtime, develop mental health conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s- which, in my opinion makes me have severely mixed feelings about the arguments within this news story; I agree that this could prevent some tragically early cases of these mental health illnesses but on the flip side, I still believe that this issue of preventing rugby tackling is still being made more of a deal than it should be. I also still believe this because of the headgear removal in boxing- that is something which can cause more debate since it poses more of a risk than a benefit.