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RFU responds to call to ban tackling

Posted on 8 March 2016

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Rugby is good for you, insists RFU

Post Date:   8th March 2016


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Under the banner “Rugby is good for you”, the RFU has issued a statement in response to the ‘tackling ban’ debate, which started when more than 70 doctors and academics have written an open letter to the government calling for a ban on tackling in matches played in UK and Irish schools.

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“The RFU takes player safety extremely seriously and this is at the core of all the training of coaches, referees, medics and the players themselves, at all levels of the game,” said the statement.

“Rugby is a fantastic sport for children, bringing many physical and social benefits, including increased confidence, self-esteem and self-discipline, and enjoyable physical exercise as part of a team. Teachers constantly comment on off-pitch behaviour improvements when rugby is introduced in school.”

Significant long-term work has developed a gradual progression to the game to ensure maximum possible safety, with a structured approach covering introduction, playing, teaching and refereeing from Under 7 to Under 18.

This structured approach provides building blocks to the 15-a-side game, allowing players time to learn the basics before contact and specialism is gradually introduced. These will be implemented across the country in both schools and clubs from September 2016.

Full 15-a-side rugby will begin a year later at Under 14. A gradual and managed introduction of the contact game around the tackle will take place from Under 9 to Under 12, instead of over two years at U9 and U10 as previously, giving players, teachers and coaches more time to master the techniques.

RugbySafe overarching programme encapsulates all the RFU’s player safety and wellbeing projects to support clubs, colleges, schools, universities and participants at all levels of the game.

High quality coaching, officiating, medical support and player behaviour, in line with rugby’s core values, all contribute to reducing the risk of injury occurring.

The RFU also runs one of the world’s  largest and longest running community level injury surveillance studies and has a clear process for translating injury research into coach, match official and player education. It is also currently running a large scale injury surveillance and prevention project in schools.

Speaking in 2014, former England centre and World Cup winner Will Greenwood said he believed rugby had huge benefits for children.

“[It] gives the values we hold dear in sport: respect, team-ship, the ability to stand side by side,” he added.

The RFU also quotes Matt Dawson and Brian Moore, both of whom have been vocal in their support of keeping tackling within the game. Brian Moore tweeted “Banning contact rugby till age 18 effectively precludes full rugby after; it’s more dangerous to start unskilled, powerful adults tackling.”

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