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Eye-watering hit ignites online debate

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Jacques Burger shared a breathtakingly brutal hit from a SA schoolboy match and not everyone's happy

The sharing of an eye-watering hit from a South African schoolboy match by former Saracens backrow Jacques Burger has ignited a heated debate around concussion and player welfare on Twitter.

The Namibian international Burger – a player known for his own bone-jarring hits – tweeted a video of a brutal tackle from a Monument Boys versus Paarl Boys match in South Africa.

The short, soundless video features one of the most brutal schoolboy rugby tackles ever caught on camera and has been viewed over 54,000 times.

The tackle in question – a legal one – left the recipient apparently unconscious and while many responded with awe at the ferocity of the collision, others within Twitter’s rugby community questioned the glorification of a tackle that left a young player apparently suffering a head trauma.

One poster remarked: ‘As much as I like a good hard tackle, that was not pleasant at all… hope the lad is okay’

Another posted: ‘all that is wrong with rugby today, a sickening hit – promoted as “boom”.

Sam Peters, the UK journalist and concussion awareness advocate also took issue with the video, questioning if rugby as a sport should be taking pleasure in such incidents:

“Huge question for rugby and @Nabasboer do we celebrate seeing a child smashed head first into rock hard ground or search for ways to avoid? For what it’s worth, watching this makes me physically sick.”

Burger responded in kind, saying: ‘We should give our youngsters all the tools to be safe in rugby but we should never teach our kids to do things halfheartedly.’

The hit does pose a question for which the sport is struggling to find an answer for: How can a game simultaneously value both physical confrontation and player welfare without compromising on one or the other?

In a week in which World Rugby announced it is to explore potential rule changes to improve player safety and reduce the risk of injuries, the debate on this video is a salient one and one that needs to be had.

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Jacques Burger shared a breathtakingly brutal hit from a SA schoolboy match and not everyone's happy