London - Over 70 doctors and medical experts sent an open letter to the
British government on Wednesday calling for tackling to be banned in
school rugby matches.
They warn that school rugby poses a high risk of serious injury and
urge educational institutions to instead adopt touch rugby or
The letter, signed by sport scholars, academics, doctors and public
health professionals, said studies show that the risks of injuries for Under-18s playing rugby "are high and injuries are often serious".
"The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum," the letter said.
"These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears,
dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries, can have
short-term, life-long, and life-ending consequences for children."
The letter noted that many British secondary schools, for students
aged 11-18, offered full-contact rugby as a compulsory sporting
It also warned of the dangers of concussion and noted that people who
have previously suffered concussion are more likely to suffer it again.
"A link has been found between repeat concussions and cognitive
impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and
diminished verbal abilities, as well as longer term problems," the
"Children take longer to recover to normal levels on measures of
memory, reaction speed and post-concussive symptoms than adults."
The letter asserted that the government has a duty to inform children
about the risks of injury enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child.
One of the letter's signatories, Allyson Pollock from London's Queen
Mary University, said: "Children are being left exposed to serious and
catastrophic risk of injury."