Saturday, 31 October 2009

Would you let your kid play rugby?

In an article in the Telegraph last week, rugby journalist Mark Reason says that he doesn't want his 10 year old son to take up rugby because "the rugby field has become a far too dangerous place."

His argument is that, because the "big hit" is now king in rugby, injuries are now pretty much inevitable. Whereas the tackle used to be about putting someone on the ground, it is now all about taking him out physically. The tackle has, in reality, been replaced by the collision. Rugby, he says, was always a hard game, but it was never this violent.

To a degree I can see his point. When I started out I was always taught to tackle low, around the legs and, to a large extent, I still utilise this somewhat antiquated practice. There's no doubt, however, that over the years tackles have become higher and higher and now it is perfectly acceptable to smash your shoulder into the opposition player's chest, aided and abetted by the prevalence of padding and protection that was outlawed back in my day.

Mr Reason concedes that rugby is relatively safe up to the age of 15 but beyond that he asks a very pertinent question: "How do you tell a lad who thinks he is immortal that rugby is just not worth getting smashed up for?"

With a 6 year old son who is currently mad about football and Doctor Who (although not necessarily in that order), it isn't a question I have yet had to face. And, if and when I do face it, I can't honestly tell you what my response will be.


Bamberio said...

I would absolutely encourage any child to play rugby if they have an interest in it. Children aren't daft and they can see that rugby is a contact sport, although touch rugby is a great way for them to start getting interested.

If they are still interested in playing the game when they reach secondary school and they are coached correctly and taught how to tackle properly then why should they be deterred? People should understand that injury is part of all sports, especially contact sports. You can't wrap kids up in cotton wool all the time.

Nursedude said...

I would rather my grandchild play rugby than American Football(my son Ian played rugby in college and with my club team in Minneapolis). The equipment in that sport gives you a false sense of security. Even though they are now illegal, you still have a lot of head-to-head hits.

It's interesting how a country's culture and bias can come into play. Where I live in the US, you have parents who might not want a kid to wrestle, box, or play rugby-but would have no problem with them playing ice hockey-a very physical sport with the added diminesion of hard ice, boards, sticks and sharp skates.

cgtodd said...

My 4 1/2 year old daughter is being trained (brainwashed?) that rugby is THE sport to play, and from what I can tell, she can't wait to take the pitch. But with a father who still straps on the boots at almost 40, and a godfather who is also a women's college and USA coach, I guess that is to be expected.

Nursedude said...

You might check this article out-I don't agree with how he tried to tie dogfighting in with football, but have a look

Bamberio said...

That's a pretty nasty article in every sense of the word. I don't know too much about American Football but wow - I didn't realise it was quite that brutal. I thought the helmets and padding did enough to protect players from things like concussion.

As for the comparisons with dogfighting. Well I think that's unjustified. Probably just wanted to create a story to shock a few people.

Total Flanker said...

The point Mark Reason was trying to make, I think, is that while rugby is fine for kids up to a certain age, at some point it becomes dangereous the way the tackle is currently taught and/or refereed.

While I think his solution - not wanting his kid to take up rugby - is extreme and misguided, I can understand his concerns about the tackle which over the years has become more and more brutal and, if left unchecked, will take us into the realms of Amercian football.

Mike said...

I have 7 sons, 6 have played rugby and the 7th will next year.Two of my daughters have played too.Yes they get injured, no I wont wrap them up in cotton wool! There are risks to anything worthwhile.

H said...

It annoys me to hear negative opinions on something I love, keep it to yourself (Mark Reason). If your child wants to play let him play.. there are far more lethal dangers in the world than playing some rugby. Talking about the disgusting new era of tackles.. Well its not like 'back in the day' was completely innocent.. Just look at JPR Williams face after lying under a maul against NZ.. The cheap stuff is more dangerous and it's been certainly reduced in later years..

.. and is he really expecting 6 year olds to be executing Brian Lima esque tackles?