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Schools warned to stop forcing students to play rugby

Health Professor Allyson Pollock has suggested that playing rugby in schools is dangerous, but in response ex-England star Brian Moore has argued that the benefits of playing rugby outweigh the risks of injury.

The public health expert has warned of the governments ‘worrying’ plans to promote sports like rugby in schools. She has called for prevention programmesand ‘injury surveillance’ to be established in British schools.

The professor, Allyson Pollock, who currently teaches at Queen Mary University of London, says that students are regularly harmed when playing sports and any injuries that occur are not being monitored properly. Figures show that one in eight children suffer injury’s serious enough to be kept of the pitch for seven days.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the professor said: “Given that children are more susceptible to injuries such as concussion and often take longer to fully recover, the governments plan is worrying. Not enough is being done by the government to put in place injury monitoring and prevention strategies. Only by collecting injury data and providing feedback to individuals/organisations working on safety initiatives, will the short- and long-term impact of injury prevention programmes, be known.”

The comments came after the government announced their pledge to increase the importance of competitive sports within education as they encourage schools to link up with local rugby clubs. Responding to the professors comments, former English rugby union hooker Brian Moore said that unless injuries are compared against other sports, they are meaningless.

In British schools where rugby is taught, boys as young as 10 are expected to play. British paediatric neurosurgeon Michael Carter says that smaller children should not be forced to play rugby. He has since called for early season and preseason strength and conditioning training, and for weight to be considered, when selecting the squad.

In the run up to the next election, government departments are not commenting on policy issues. However, Dr Fiona Godlee, BMJ Editor in Chief, said: “The current state of monitoring of rugby injury in schools is a scandal which needs urgent remedy”.

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