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Schools level tackle ban call by English university academics hasn't gone down well online

By Josh Raisey

Trending on RugbyPass

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Recent calls made by England university academics for schools to adopt a tackle ban in rugby has already encountered opposition online. Experts from the University of Newcastle, Winchester and Oxford Brookes have written to the UK’s chief medical officers asking to ban tackling in the school environment as rugby faces a potential dementia crisis. 

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An ever-increasing number of former professional players are taking legal action against the sport’s authorities over the brain damage they suffered over their careers, which has caused early-onset dementia and potential Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). 

Eddie Jones recently proposed outlawing tackling above waist height at school level to limit head injuries, as there is an urgent need for action to be taken. This suggestion by university academics is just another way to address the problem, but it has not proven to be too popular amongst fans. 

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Rugby is, of course, largely recognised as a contact sport, and many have said that it would kill off the interest in the game if tackling is banned. 

But the main contention is deeper than people just wanting to preserve the identity of rugby. It has been suggested tackling would actually have an adverse effect in the long run, as children would not be taught the proper tackling technique for later life. 

This could consequently create more injuries when adults. The emphasis is therefore for school children to be taught correct tackle technique. Any opposition like this can sometimes be hastily disregarded as obstinately standing in the face of science, but the responses from many fans seem to be drawn from their own experiences growing up and playing rugby. 

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The burgeoning weight and power of players in the professional game is a leading cause of these brain injuries, but it is being argued online that that isn’t necessarily a problem at school level. Professional rugby, after all, is only a quarter of a century old, while rugby has been played at schools for over 100 years. 

While some have also dismissed this by saying you do not have to play rugby if you don’t want to, people should not be deprived of the game’s aspects and benefits other than the contact side of it. Further, the request is only that tackling is banned in the school environment, meaning children have a choice outside of school. 

Many would agree that action must be taken and this is just one potential solution to the current problem. Weight classes are another approach that has been taken around the world to make the game safer. But with any suggestion like this, there are inevitably some queries. 

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Schools level tackle ban call by English university academics hasn't gone down well online

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