The call to remove tackling from schools’ rugby: Some myths and misconceptions
This week, the call to remove tackling from schools’ rugby in the United Kingdom has flared up once again with much heated debate and anger. Emotions have run so high that World Rugby has called this call ‘extreme and alarmist’. Much of the debate, unfortunately, has been lost through the polarisation of positions with little unpicking of reality. So much so, there are a number of myths that need some further attention and discussion. [contd]
The bromance is blossoming, says study
After winning Olympic gold in the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard last year, British diver Jack Laugher ran, in only Speedos, to his diving partner and housemate, Chris Mears, for a heartwarming victory cuddle. Immediately afterwards, the Daily Mail published a piece entitled “Steady on chaps!…” questioning the masculinity (and arguably, sexuality) of the champions.... [contd].
LOOK A LITTLE FURTHER: EXAMINING HOMOPHOBIA AND FINDING WIDESPREAD SOCIAL SUPPORT
It is often hard to find the positive and empowering stories of gay men and lesbian women within the mainstream media narratives. Opening Facebook during the Olympics we were drawn to a story shared by Pink News highlighting the distasteful reporting of a male embrace of hugging shared between Olympic divers Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the Daily Mail. The homosocial tactility these two Olympians share is completely routine for young men today, even without the emotion-fueling event of winning a gold medal. The Daily Mail, however, decided to question such normal and beautiful behavior, as if Jack and Chris have just taken gender norms, chewed them and spat them back in the green Olympic pool they just emerged from. In fact, just to set the Daily Mail straight, there is huge swaths of research today expressing exactly that younger men are increasingly physically tactile and pro-gay; exactly like Jack and Chris. This, however, isn’t the only gay-themed story we have cringed at recently.... [contd].
SAFETY IN YOUTH RUGBY: EDUCATION IS NOT THE ANSWER TO THE CONCUSSION CRISIS
Despite the potential health benefits from participating in the sport, rugby is under increasing scrutiny as a result of the high number of injuries experienced by youth participants. We know, for example, that injury rates in rugby union for participants under 21 years of age can be as high as 128.9 injuries per 1000 playing hours, with a mean injury incidence rate of 26.7 per 1000 playing hours. The tackle is often to blame, causing sixty-three per cent of all injuries in one study on school rugby... [contd].
WHY TACKLING IN SCHOOL RUGBY SHOULD BE BANNED
Seventy academics, doctors, and public health professionals recently called for a ban on tackling in school rugby. They have called upon “Childrens’ Commissioners to protect children from the risks of harmful contact in school rugby” and for “Ministers to remove the tackle and other forms of harmful contact.” As an executive committee member of England Rugby Schools, I support the ban... [contd].
(c) Adam John White