RemovingTackling in schools' Rugby

In March 2016, I along with 80 Sport, Education and Health doctors wrote to Ministers, Chief Medical Officers and Children's Commissioners calling for the tackle to be banned from schools' rugby. This call was based upon: 

  1. Contact rugby having a high and serious risk of injury
  2. Traumatic brain injuries are common in contact rugby, and the potential neurodegenerative outcomes are worrying
  3. The tackle being the primary mechanism for injury within contact rugby. 
  4. Many schools deliver contact rugby as a compulsory part of their physical education curriculum for boys
  5. There is a lack of injury monitoring and auditing in the school sport context
  6. And, the government is not currently ensuring children are prevented from unnecessary harm in accord with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Since then, I and others have been involved in extensive academic research, political advocacy and campaigning around this issue in order to make physical education safer for young people. Our message is simple: prevent injuries, remove contact. 

What we have been up to: 

March 2016: Open letter to government Ministers, Chief Medical Officers and Children's Commissioners. 

June 2016: “Injury risk and a tackle ban in youth Rugby Union: reviewing the evidence and searching for targeted, effective interventions. A critical review” by World Rugby's Ross Tucker, Martin Raftery and Evert Verhagen.  

July 2016: Chief Medical Officer's and the Physical Activity Expert Group responded to our Open Letter

September 2016: Presentation at British Science Festival in Swansea.

October 2016: Report to England Rugby Football Schools Union Governance Sub-Committee. 

March 2017: Presentation at Politics in Sport Association conference in Manchester. 

July 2017: “Evidence in support of the call to ban the tackle and harmful contact in school rugby: a response to World Rugby” published in BJSM

July 2017: Response by Pollock, Anderson, White and Kirkwood to Chief Medical Officers 

September 2017: Meeting the Rt Hon Damian Collins (Chair of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport). 

October 2017: Presentation at TEDx Kingston-Upon-Thames 

December 2020: Open Letter to Chief Medical Officers by White, Pollock, Anderson & Kirkwood

© Copyright Adam John White