The comments we have seen this morning regarding tackling in junior rugby don't do anyone any good. As far as I'm concerned they simply cause those parents who might have just begun their Sunday morning trips down to mini rugby to worry. Not just worry, but fear for their children. It's so far wide of the mark it's unbelievable.
Professor Allyson Pollock and Eric Anderson were part of a study which found that rugby was a collision sport and that within those contact areas there is a risk of injury. Are we actually paying for research into topics like this when quite frankly this is stating the obvious? Rugby is indeed a contact sport in which there is a risk, a small risk that at some point someone might be injured. Everyone who plays the game knows the risks and the majority of them know how to avoid injury. It's the accidental occasion that leads to something very unfortunate.
We can't cover our kids in cotton wool throughout the years of them growing up. If we are going to do that then we might as well look at the following: remove the hockey stick from hockey replacing it with a plastic one and changing the hard ball to one of those balls with holes in which won't hurt you. We will ban heading the ball in football and you aren't allowed to touch anyone when trying to tackle them either. God knows what we would do with horse riding, maybe just ban it all together and let's turn gymnastics into ballroom dancing where there is no danger of kids falling off beams, pommel horses or them getting hurt doing flips.
It's boring and so are the comments laid out today by so-called experts. We play sports because not only do we love them but we learn so much from them at the same time. Leadership, sportsmanship, respect, teamwork and more, are just some of the values kids learn from being involved in rugby and other sports. It's vital that we encourage them to continue to play games and be active rather than avoid any danger of getting hurt by staying indoors and playing computer games instead. Comments like the ones in the media this morning will do nothing more than make it harder to break the ever increasing child obesity trend. That's another matter though.
Rather than removing the tackle from the game completely which would totally destroy it, let's focus on making the game we play safer. Levels of coaching qualifications and the skills demonstrated by coaches across the UK need to be looked at. If we can coach our kids safely and properly then there should be less and less of a risk of injury. Focus on the things we can do to improve rather than a radical and unfounded mass change of one of the fundamentals of the game. Anyone who has ever coached rugby can't be astounded by the number of kids wanting to do contact. No doubt like me, at 37, you can't think of anything worse. They love it so let's make it as safe for them as possible, don't remove it. It's our responsibility as promoters of the game to ensure people are safe, not to expose them to risk.
There are so many risks in life that we can't start pin pointing them all and trying to get rid of them. All kids have scooters and so many seem to get hurt using them but nothing is being said about that. There are everyday risks. We don't look at them either. If stats serve me rightly there are more injuries playing football every 1,000 hours of playing than in rugby. At the moment though in rugby there is massive focus on concussion and how we can reduce that which leads to sport-averse people like Allyson Pollock saying what she has done today.
I doubt very much that kids are forced to play rugby. They shouldn't be anyway. Encouraged yes, forced, no. There is a difference and one that makes a massive difference. If they don't want to play because they are worried about injury then don't let them as thinking that way is only going to lead to one thing - injury. I think it's sad when we have people come out and make comments on a game when they are most likely not to have ever had any involvement in it or seen how kids across the country gain so much from it. By looking at stats from an office you can form opinion but if like me, you see thousands of kids every weekend running round, loving the game, enjoying themselves and doing so in a safe environment then you won't have much time for Pollock or Anderson either.