School divides rugby players by weight rather than age

The Times, 11.02.16, HMC leading independent Wellington School is believed to be the first in England to introduce weight banding for rugby matches amid rising concern over the rate of injuries during matches.

Wellington School, near Taunton in Somerset, will group its pupils according to their weight rather than year group after 20 students sustained head injuries last term.

The three bands are 40-50kg (6st 4oz to 7st 12oz), 50-60kg (7st 12oz to 9st 6oz) and 60-70kg (7st 12oz to 11st).

The school is planning to start the system on students from year 7 to year 10. They will revert to normal when they reach the sixth form.

Steffan Jones, the director of sport and wellbeing at the school, has set up a meeting with directors of sport from other private schools to propose introducing a league of B-team fixtures using the new format.

Mr Jones said the measures were necessary to reflect changes in the game. He said: “The game is not what it used to be. It’s a collision game now, opposed to an evasion game. You’re supposed to avoid collisions and use sidesteps and passing.” He added: “The difference in size of some of the players is frightening, because it’s that puberty age.”

Mr Jones added that schools in New Zealand, the country which won the World Cup last year, introduced weight banding about 50 years ago.

Michael Carter, a paediatric neurosurgeon at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, warned last year that smaller children should not be forced to play with boys with bigger physiques in school matches due to the risk of injury.

Read more © The Times