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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

St Benedict’s boys reject medics’ call for a ban on rugby tackles

The John Paul II Foundation for Sport and students from St Benedict’s School have spoken out against calls to ban tackling in school rugby matches.

Over 70 doctors and academics have called for a ban in UK and Irish schools, stating that injuries from the high-impact collision sport could result in lifelong health effects for children. The medics also claim that the majority of injuries in youth rugby come from tackles.

“These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries can have short-term, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children.” The doctors say concussion is another common injury.

The medics offered touch and non-contact rugby as an alternative. However, Fr Vladimir Felzmann, the CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, disagreed with their plea, explaining how all sports carry the possibility of injury. “Every activity carries its risks,” he told The Universe. “Rugby teaches team work and much else. Well-trained rugby players who play by the rules carry low risks of serious injury.”

He criticised the idea of banning tackling, asking if people should “sit on the floor away from traffic so as to be safe?”

Meanwhile, Sky News recently paid a visit St Benedict’s School on Tuesday, 1st March to get some opinions on the subject and catch the Ealing boys training on the rugby field for a short film on the issue.

The school’s director of sport, Nikki Woodroffe revealed how Sky had approached the school, which has a strong rugby tradition, to comment on the recent issue of tackling within junior rugby, which is classed as under 18. “As rugby is one of our core sports, played over two terms, it is very close to our hearts and so naturally our director of rugby, James Coles, and the boys were happy to comment.”

The boys were not in favour of the proposed changes, with some claiming it is an integral part of the game. “Without the physicality rugby would change to a different sport,” said one of the boys, while another added, “we are taught to tackle safely and safety always comes first so I don’t think it’s an issue.” James Coles conceded that there is always the risk of injury but believed that the positives outweigh the negatives.

The Sky News video can be viewed at: news.sky.com/story/1651698/stop-tackling-in-school-rugby-doctors-say