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 The tackle has, in reality, been replaced by the collision.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.