Doctors say no to tackling in rugby – level 3

17-03-2016 07:00

Terms such as “choke tackle” and “hospital pass” have given rugby the reputation as a tough, competitive contact support. But the traditional way it’s played could be about to die out in schools across the UK.

Fears that children are being put at risk of potentially fatal injuries while playing have prompted health experts to call for a ban on tackling. More than 70 doctors and medics have signed a letter to the government, warning that children are suffering head and spinal injuries.

These parents are divided on whether the game is too rough.

“It is worrying, the contact, and the size of the boys, and the fact that the bigger boys are bigger than they ever used to be, and when you hear them bashing together, it’s awful!”
“I think that’s part and parcel of the game, you know what it’s all about. I just can’t see how it’d be quite the same game without any tackling.”
In an open letter to ministers, the medical experts argue two-thirds of injuries and most concussions are down to tackles. And they want schools to switch to touch and non-contact rugby. But supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging. 

“I think it’s all about trying to graduate and build up their ability to make the contact. And that’s what the referee’s doing, he’s bringing in new rules to ensure that from a young age, they can develop and learn the skills of contact as they go into adult rugby.”
And there was one particular person in few. David Ross was paralysed by a rugby injury and yet even he is against the change.

“In the sport, people get up and they want to play rugby and they choose to play rugby. They want to have that element of contact and that physicality cause that’s part of the game that draws some people in, and people really enjoy it. So I think taking that away from those who want to partake would be a great shame.”

He even goes so far as to credit the game for helping him with his recovery.

“I mean, I think from playing rugby, the character that I was able to build, and the determination and dedication to the sport is really what helped me drive through what happened to me.”

The Rugby Football Union says schools are already able to choose between playing as a contact or a non-contact sport. This could ensure that children get a gradual introduction to the rough-and-tumble of rugby.

Difficult words: reputation (what people know about something), prompt (to push someone to do something), tackle (to run into another player to knock them over), spinal (relating to the spine – the bones in the back of your body that connect to your head), part and parcel (a part of), concussion (when you hit your head very hard), ensure (to be sure), element (a part of something), physicality (touching other people), partake (to do something because you want to), drive through (to work through something), gradual (slow), rough-and-tumble (fighting that seems to be without rules).



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