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Evidence in support of the call to ban the tackle and harmful contact in school rugby: a response to World Rugby

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Allyson PollockORCiD, Graham Kirkwood



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by BMJ Journals, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In a paper published in BJSM (June 2016), World Rugby employees Ross Tucker and Martin Raftery and a third coauthor Evert Verhagen took issue with the recent call to ban tackling in school rugby in the UK and Ireland. That call (to ban tackling) was supported by a systematic review published in BJSM. Tucker et al claim that: (1) the mechanisms and risk factors for injury along with the incidence and severity of injury in youth rugby union have not been thoroughly identified or understood; (2) rugby players are at no greater risk of injury than other sports people, (3) this is particularly the case for children under 15 years and (4) removing the opportunity to learn the tackle from school pupils might increase rates of injuries. They conclude that a ban ‘may be unnecessary and may also lead to unintended consequences such as an increase in the risk of injury later in participation.’ Here we aim to rebut the case by Tucker et al. We share new research that extends the findings of our original systematic review and meta-analysis. A cautionary approach requires the removal of the tackle from school rugby as the quickest and most effective method of reducing high injury rates in youth rugby, a public health priority.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pollock AM, White AJ, Kirkwood G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Sports Medicine

Year: 2017

Volume: 51

Pages: 1113-1117

Print publication date: 06/07/2017

Online publication date: 12/07/2017

Acceptance date: 04/05/2017

Date deposited: 13/07/2017

ISSN (print): 0306-3674

ISSN (electronic): 1473-0480

Publisher: BMJ Journals


DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096996


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