Every few years the same argument is raised and then comprehensively shut down regarding full contact Rugby at a junior level. Now it's the turn of a group of academics from Newcastle, Winchester and Oxford Brookes Universities to state the obvious once again on why Rugby is dangerous in particular circumstances... As if we didn't already know?
This time around they have urged schools to ban tackling in school Rugby and have gone so far to write to the UK's Chief Medical Officers calling for them to secure Government intervention moving forwards. Their concerns largely lay with the potential impact on young, developing brains; they say that Rugby Union (and Rugby League) needs to change to protect our children, but what they do out of school is their own business. *Yawn*
We understand the context here and it's horrible to hear of the injuries, brain conditions and diseases ex-professionals are now suffering with, however, it's so, so important not to link the two cases at this early stage. If you start throwing in this limp, self explanatory and groan inducing school contact argument into a very real, very serious lawsuit revolving around mismanagement, negligence and lack of information around brain injuries you are HURTING the ex professionals who are seriously suffering. This will inevitably annoy, infuriate and provoke potential followers and supporters of an incredibly serious cause that needs all the help it can get.
Full-contact Rugby, for years now, has been gradually introduced as you get older and the medical attention, care and advice is better now than even that of two/three years ago (especially with all the new rule changes). As someone who suffered with concussion and neck injuries throughout my teenagehood outside of school sport, I can unashamedly state that school Rugby is just as safe and well monitored today as any other sport; I had friends who broke their hips and ankles playing Football at school which is more than ever happened to me. I get that my statement is just one, isolated and self-important example, but surely it's ex-Rugby players and Rugby physicians who need to speak up if this really is a serious, cyclical problem at a junior level. There needs to be a solution, not a cancellation; there just needs better training, not a dissociation.
'No discernible physical health benefits', from playing full contact Rugby Union in comparison to non-contact forms of Rugby... That's the stupidest thing I've heard during the course of the last few years regarding this argument. That's like saying competitive football doesn't have any better health benefits than track running, or tennis doesn't have any better physical health benefits than golf... That's just not an argument as they are two different things! I'm sure far less people get injured throwing a shot put than in cricket but just because they both use a hard ball doesn't mean one doesn't have value.
I really, really hope that an argument as silly and petulant as this doesn't deface the value and respect given to the serious, harrowing examples given by Steve Thompson, Michael Lipman and Alix Popham of where they were let down by either their clubs, unions or fellow team mates regarding their injuries.
Read the full BBC Article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/55356802