As a father of a 13 year old who is now playing regular contact rugby (and pretty well, I must say) there are a few points worth making here:
1.) There's no doubt in my mind that there ARE issues in general with tackling in rugby that do need addressing. See:
- Whatever Happened to Tackling and
- Whatever Happened to Tackling (Part 2)
2.) My perception is that kids playing rugby at school are probably more at risk than kids playing rugby at a club. My experience is that school coaching in general is not as advanced and, of course, playing club rugby is entirely voluntary whereas at school it is often compulsory - and contact rugby clearly isn't for everyone.
3.) There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the benefits of playing rugby - fitness, discipline, teamwork, leadership, camaraderie etc - far outweigh the risks.
4.) I do wonder whether any of the doctors and academics who have signed up to the letter have actually ever played the game?
5.) If we are going to ban kids from tackling in rugby then there's an equally compelling argument to ban them from tackling in football, playing hockey with a stick, riding a horse, skiing, cycling, taking part in gymnastics, crossing a road or getting out of bed.
6.) I remain fully supportive of a ban on kids tackling Boris Johnson.