Banning Tackling In Rugby

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Banning tackling in rugby

It was recently announced that more than 70 academics and doctors are calling for tackling to be banned in rugby matches played in British and Irish schools. The argument for the ban is that the majority of injuries sustained during matches are concussions that can have long term effects for the children involved. While we all know the effects concussions can have and are aware that high impact sports can cause some serious injuries, I can’t help but think the idea of a ban is a load of bologna.

I may not be an avid rugby fan but I’ve watched enough matches both on TV and at Murrayfield (plus my parents have Scotland season tickets so I’m totally qualified to comment on this) but I understand enough about the sport to know tackling is a huge part of it. If you remove tackling from rugby all you’re left with are a bunch of people playing tag with a ball. I don’t know about you but I stopped playing tag when I was 10; it’s just not cool once you hit your tweens.

Now of course, the matches I watch involve the professionals who know and understand the game like the back of their hands. Schoolchildren on the other hand, aren’t playing on the same level as the professionals and more than likely do not possess the same skills. Due to this, they’re going to be prone to making mistakes which can in turn lead to injuries. Saying this though, the only way anyone who actively chooses to play rugby from a young age is going to get better is to practice the full game and learn from their mistakes.

Thinking back to the guys who played on my school rugby team, I can’t imagine many of them would’ve bothered if they weren’t allowed to tackle. I think if you were to remove tackling from rugby played at school age then we would see a significant drop in people interested in participating. Considering we as a nation are constantly told we’re overweight and underactive, surely you would want to encourage children to participate in a sport rather than deter them?

There is a point where I do agree that tackling should be banned in rugby in schools and that’s when it is actually forced upon the pupils. During my delightful P.E lessons at school, we would only play tag rugby and never contact or tackle rugby however, not every pupil has the privilege of playing tag with a ball. There are some schools in the UK who have tackle rugby as part of their P.E curriculum.

Thinking back to my tag rugby days, I think very few of my peers would be interested in learning how to tackle correctly and we most definitely would not be able to execute a tackle. That right there would have opened every single person on the field up to injury and is exactly why I think tackling should be banned when you’re only participating because your school says you have to.

While high impact sports do come with the possibility of being injured, if you play the game safely and properly you lower the chances of concussions and long term health issues. Of course, you’ll never eliminate injuries completely but teaching kids and teenagers how to play properly and even providing suitable head gear, is a start at making the sport safer. Eliminating a huge part of rugby altogether is not the answer and if you’re going to attempt to ban tackling then you better ban throwing the ball in basketball; I’ve had more injuries from pretending I’m Kobe Bryant than I ever have pretending I’m Greg Laidlaw after all.

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