Belfast Telegraph

School rugby tackling ban 'not the answer' says father of Co Antrim boy who died after concussion in game

Medical experts call for a ban saying young players can be seriously injured

The father of a Co Antrim teenager - who died after being concussed during a school rugby match - has said a ban on young players tackling is "not the answer".

Peter Robinson's 14-year-old Ben, from Carrickfergus, died after suffering a brain injury during a match in 2011.


At the inquest of his death, the coroner said lessons needed to be learned on the injury risks associated with the sport.

His father has campaigned for better awareness of traumatic brain injury and concussion in the game.

Mr Robinson said a tackling ban was needed on those coaches who don't abide by concussion protocols.

"Mismanagement is the real danger," he said.

Mr Robinson took to twitter after medical experts called for a complete ban on tackling in school rugby.

Doctors, health professionals and academics across the UK and Ireland have signed a letter to ministers urging them to remove all harmful forms of contact from school rugby.

Tackling and scrums pose too great a risk of fractures, concussion, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries for under-18s, they argue.

Instead they are advocating non-contact versions of the game, such as touch rugby.

In their letter published on Wednesday, they say injuries can have "short-term, life-long, and life-ending consequences for children".

"A link has been found between repeat concussions and cognitive impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities, as well as longer term problems," the letter said.

The call for a change to the way rugby is played in schools is supported by Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, the British Medical Journal.

“The evidence is growing of serious injury and lasting damage to school age children who play tackling rugby. The scale of the problem has been hidden by the failure to collect and analyse national data. With more and more girls now playing rugby as well, the problem is likely to worsen unless something is done,” she said.

Those opposed to the ban say tackling is introduced gradually and players are taught to recognise the signs of injury.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the governing body for rugby union in England, said: “The RFU takes player safety extremely seriously and this is at the core of all the training we deliver to coaches, referees, medics and the players themselves, at all levels of the game."

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