HMC Insight: Sports safety and schools: the case of rugby

17 December 2015
Posted by Heidi Salmons
David Elstone (Hymers College), Chair of the HMC Sports Sub-Committee, considers the arguments and the evidence.

Professor Allyson Pollock’s recent book Tackling Rugby (Verso, 2014) has alerted a wide audience to the possible risks of injury. Her basic premise is
that the likelihood of injury to children has been insufficiently measured by those responsible for the delivery of the game, particularly national unions and schools themselves. She believes that parents should be briefed on the risk of injury in order to inform their judgement as to whether they will allow their children to play the game.

In the wake of her own son’s rugby injuries, and the unavailability of figures detailing the frequency of such injuries, Pollock conducted a survey of six Scottish schools over most of a season. It is from this that she concludes that the likelihood of injury requiring more than a week’s absence from the game is 17%. If Pollock’s book results in a more scientific approach to measuring and reducing injury, it will have served a positive purpose.

As a non-rugby-playing Headmaster and Chair of the HMC Sports Sub-Committee, I have spent much time over the past few months reflecting on Pollock’s book and other issues within youth rugby as well as contemplating why my school and many others continue to play the sport.

To read more, see issue 5 of HMC's Insight magazine.