Rugby Impact on Children’s Wellbeing: Report Labels Sport as ‘Abusive

A recent medical report has categorized rugby as one of the contact sports that should be considered “abusive” to the wellbeing of children, particularly in relation to the potential threat of head contact.

St Stithians against Parktown during a local school rugby game.

St Stithians against Parktown during a local school rugby game.

The report, authored by academics from the universities of Winchester and Nottingham, highlights concerns about the long-term risks of brain injuries associated with rugby and emphasises that parents are not always fully informed about these risks.

The findings come at a time when awareness around the impact of contact sports on brain health is growing, with nearly 300 former rugby players, including England World Cup-winners Steve Thompson and Phil Vickery, advocating for increased awareness and action regarding brain injuries.

Professor Eric Anderson, a sport expert from the University of Winchester who led the study, expressed the view that sports for children should prioritize fun, health, and social development rather than potentially causing harm to their brains.

Anderson stated, “These collisions cause cognitive harm and increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and dementia; they are therefore abusive to a child’s brain.”

What this means for rugby

As the annual Six Nations tournament kicks off, this report is likely to spark discussions and debates about the appropriateness of introducing children to sports with high levels of physical contact.

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