Schools urged to ban tackling in rugby


Supreme Veteran
Nov 18, 2007
The Sock Gap
How does that work?
Yes safety is important but bloody hell an outright ban would be too far.

More than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.

In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this "high-impact collision sport" can have lifelong consequences for children.

They argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.

Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging.

The concerns have been raised as a seven-year programme headed by the Rugby Football Union is on target to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.

The RFU's programme, which began in 2012 and is running until 2019, has so far reached 400 schools, with 350 to follow.
'Fractures and dislocations'

But, in their letter to ministers, chief medical officers and children's commissioners in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, doctors say the risks for players aged under 18 are high.

They say many secondary schools in the UK deliver contact rugby as a compulsory part of the physical education curriculum from the age of 11.

"The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum," the letter says.

"These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries can have short-term, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children."

The doctors say concussion is a common injury, and they highlight a link between "repeat concussions and cognitive impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities".
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Sonata Dusk
Staff member
Aug 27, 2005
More studies are coming out showing a large increase in degrading neurological and physical health in people who have played sports involving heavy hits to the head and spine. It does make sense, the human body is fragile in numerous ways. How many sports players, even ones who did it just in high school or college, have some kind of injury they'll carry for the rest of their lives? I know several and they all have at least one.

Still, this is what the sports are for. We're a warrior species, we live for the adrenaline, to fight and test ourselves. As long as children/teens are made aware of the possible/probably consequences of playing the sport then it's a matter of their decision and we should respect that.


Staff member
Oct 8, 2007
Meanwhile New Zealand be like:

It's hilarious how people in the UK blame things out of their control on the government.

The UK does a lot of things right. But damn they are such a nanny state at times.

What's next? Close off all routes to and from school during school hours so there is no chance of a child being hit? At some point, you just have to tell people to stfu. I'm british btw, and i for one would tell people to stfu. If the parents aren't comfortable with their kid participating in contact sport, the parent should take him out. I knew kids(it was actually just a single dude) who were taken out of swim class for that reason.

Kid still needed to do the theory work though ;)


Selected Members Council
Staff member
Oct 14, 2013
Chillin by the poo!!
Seems a bit stupid to me, at the end of the day you should know if you play rugby you gonna get tackled, but it's not like it's big burley men doing the takling, it's freaking school children!!


The Last of Us
Staff member
Dec 16, 2006
Firstly I agree that it's a stupid idea beyond all belief.

I will say though Duffman that you'd be surprised at the veracity of the tackles even at the school age. They are brutal! Couple with that you get the biggest gulf in physical development between kids, even of the same age, than you do between adults and I can assure you big hits and injuries do happen.

Having said all that and being involved in youth rugby for a few years now I can tell you that safety both in the laws, and through each club's safety officers and coaches means that the game is as safe a contact sport to play as any other contact sport. You can only play up a year or down a year with club approvals (and these have to be registered with England Rugby and are restricted to two in any one game) and approvals on the day of the opposing team coach. Where teams have a gulf in capability or experience then they will play with uncontested scrums and line outs. Each club takes a rugby trained medic to their games (it's a great way for parents to get involved and they go on training for it) and everyone has the kids welfare at heart in every single game. Good sportsmanship is rigorously enforced both with kids and parents on the side lines. Finally things like lineout lifts and hand offs are banned (and penalised) until, I think, age 19.

No contact sport can be made 100% safe but to go overboard and get all stupid about it by throwing blanket bans around just smacks of ignorance and lack of understanding. What next? Ban football, cricket, hockey, and horse riding, all of which can result in nasty injuries.

Teach the kids to play well, have respect for the game and each other and while you'll never be free of any injuries they will fall within acceptable levels. Concussion is the big concern nowadays of course and if anyone gets hit in the head, bangs their head on the ground or any other hard contact with the head then that's them out for an enforced two weeks (usually coupled with pleads and tears from the kids in question to the contrary).


Staff member
Oct 8, 2007
I got tackled american football style once - Jumped up under a high ball, my mate thought he could hold/carry/catch me, thought wrong, and swept my legs out from under me - and i turned out all right. Everything of import is still in working order.... Anything that's broke was broke long before that :snicker

Our PE teacher didn't actually allow any tackle other than the ones we practised however. Which was the 'safe' tackle, or proper one.

To round my little story off, because i grew up in Fiji, the 'safe' tackle was akin to playing with people standing still. I never considered myself of any decent skill in rugby, but i did get scouted by one of the local teams (i can't remember if it was a Wales scout - probably not. I just remember being pulled aside).

However, when i gave my permission slip to my mother, she said "It's too dangerous, you might get hurt" which was fair enough since i was winger/centre (and quite small compared to the forwards). And that is the story of how a parent did their job as a parent. Now that im older, honestly would not have cared for it and would ultimately have been a waste of time.

So yeah, fuck those doctors and their giant noses ;)


Forum Elder
Apr 10, 2014
I used to play rugby at school, when I lived in the midlands. When I moved to Norfolk at age of 13 the school I went to had already banned rugby. Shame casue it was my favourite sport back then.