THE BLOG

Banning Tackling in Rugby? Instead We Should Teach Children to Tackle Properly and Safely

02/03/2016 12:30 GMT | Updated 03/03/2017 10:12 GMT

The problem with all of these great schemes and notions is two-fold. They are inevitably dreamt up by people who have no practical experience in these matters, plus they never allow for the fact that children grow up.

Let's not have any sort of recognition structure, in case it upsets the under-achievers. Basically to hell with the achievers! It's always about the purported disadvantaged.

All good. Everyone happy. (Well of course the majority aren't but no one wants to be seen to be making a fuss) Then bang, everyone encounters the real world, only to discover what a harsh and cruel place it can be.

So rejection from your university of choice; failure to land the job you want. These all come as a huge surprise and cause great anguish to the individual, who has had no life preparation to combat and deal with such misfortune because somebody decided reality was not a good idea.

So now we have the call for tackling in rugby to be banned. Of course I have respect for the opinions of doctors and absolutely we need to listen to their concerns, as concussion in rugby has suddenly become a hot and important topic.

However rugby is one of the very few sports in the modern era that has managed to retain its core values; working as a team, respecting the referee, the opposition and leaving everything on the pitch. It has been very successful in helping socially disadvantaged individuals learn confidence, self discipline and gain self esteem. In short the sport has proven to have real value and worth. All this aside from the enjoyment and pleasure it brings to millions.

Now apparently all this needs to abandoned and replaced with a totally sanitised version of the game, which will inevitably lead in the long term, to its demise. Touch rugby is great in the park after work. However I don't think it would fill Twickenham that often!

Any physical activity brings with it risks. In most other walks of life "risks" are dealt with through awareness programmes aligned to proper training to minimise the risks.

I am neither a doctor nor an academic and would never wish to suggest otherwise but I think I am pretty safe in saying that the vast majority of rugby accidents and collisions happen because the people involved are not tackling properly, with the result their head is in the wrong place, which is what causes the issue.

So my response to this call is not to throw the baby out with the bath water but to ensure both children and adults wanting to take up the game, are taught how to tackle properly.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) with their continuum have made a good start in this area, gradually introducing children into the various phases of the game - not allowing them to push in scrums or start to tackle until they reach a certain age.

So yes this is a serious concern and shouldn't be swept under the carpet but equally can't we for once bring a reasoned approach to the subject? Rather than just ban everything, can't we seek a sensible middle ground solution, which is look at the causes rather than just the outcomes?

Teach people to play the game properly. Even possibly introduce some sort of minimum standard testing/certification, as we do in other areas, to ensure people are competent, prepared and capable to play the game, without the need to destroy a brilliant sport because there is an element of danger.

Whilst I do not want to undermine what these well intentioned people are saying - nevertheless I wager it's probably safer for children to play rugby than it is for them to cycle on the roads.

Are they suggesting we should ban this as well?