Alex Massie

Kids Like Playing Rugby. So They Shouldn’t Be Allowed To.

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This may be today's most infuriating "story":

Rugby scrums should be banned in schools to protect children involved in a sport which is "not safe enough" for them, an expert has warned. Professor Allyson Pollock, director of Edinburgh University's Centre for International Public Health Policy, called for the ban after research into child injuries.

The study was carried out during 190 rugby matches at five schools. There were 37 injuries recorded, with 20 taken to accident and emergency. The tackle was the "commonest phase of play causing injury" with the head and face the most injured body part, along with sprains or ligament damage.

Prof Pollock, one of the study's authors, said: "High tackles and scrums should be banned. The sport is not safe enough for schoolchildren and not enough is being done to protect the safety of children. We know that most injuries occur in tackles and the scrum so there have got to be much greater safety measures in these areas."

She said moderating play may change rugby, but it was better to have a safe game than a dangerous one.

Children have been playing rugby for more than 130 years without any trouble at all. So obviously this and they must be stopped. Never mind that the game is almost certainly rather "safer" now than once it was* or that Professor Pollock's own "study" showed that among more than 5,500 players there was precisely one injury that led to an overnight stay in hospital. In other words, there is little evience that there's even a "problem" here, far less one so serious that it requires any action whatsoever let alone further moves to actually destroy the game.

What next, banning children from cycling? Or from running down stairs?

*At the very least, player safety is a bigger issue and concern than it was previously.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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