Leader comment: Game without contact would not be rugby

The game of rugby at elite level is unrecognisable when set against earlier eras. Players have become giants; physical specimens that would have seen today's average-sized player considered a '˜freak' in days gone by. And with that bulking up has come an increase in significant injuries.

Trauma experts have proposed that schools rugby should no longer include the tackle or the scrum.
Trauma experts have proposed that schools rugby should no longer include the tackle or the scrum.

Parents have worried about their children playing rugby since Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it, but in recent years, that anxiety has grown. As well as the evidence we see on TV, we’re also more aware than before of the injuries that take place in schoolboy rugby – injuries which may always have occurred, but are better publicised now.

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It is no surprise that trauma experts now suggest the tackle and the scrum should be banned from school matches. This will certainly reduce the number and extent of injuries. But would it still be rugby?

Rugby is aware of its responsibility, and measures have been put in place to make the game safer than it has ever been at schoolboy level.

Every sport comes with risk, and rugby has its share of injuries. But we should not confuse elite sport with the thrilling game that has inspired children for over a century.