World Rugby defiant following call for tackling ban in schools


World Rugby has issued a defiant response to calls for a ban on tackling in school games in the United Kingdom.

A group of doctors and health professionals have written an open letter to the UK government suggesting a switch to non-contact rugby at school level.

However, the sport's global governing body insists young participants would be at far greater risk from prolonged periods of inactivity.

The organisation cited Dr Colin Michie of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who suggested the implementation of such a ban would be a mistake.

"Until there is clear-cut evidence that rugby in the young is posing a specifically greater risk than other sports, banning would be a mistake," said Michie.

"Of course it has its dangers. But a far greater risk facing Britain's children is that of becoming an inactive youngster, struggling to tear themselves away from their smartphones or televisions, and lacking the ability to jog the length of a rugby pitch, let alone play a whole match."

World Rugby also downplayed the dangers of children taking part in rugby, claiming injuries occur no more frequently than in other sports.

"Whilst the safety of children is an important part of the debate, it should not overshadow the benefits of children taking part in this team sport," a World Rugby statement read.

"Compared with other sports and activities, rugby has a relatively low injury rate despite being known for the physicality of the game.

"In fact, research has shown that rugby is no riskier for children to play than other sports - there is no difference between reported injury rates in rugby, football, indoor football and rugby league at under-12 level.

"The number one cause of injury for children is unsupervised activity or playing, not sports, while sport itself only accounts for one in six head injury admissions to hospital."