Belfast Telegraph

Dad of Northern Ireland boy who died during rugby game accuses Piers Morgan of 'trivialising' contact in sport discussion

The father of a boy who died on the rugby field accused ITV host Piers Morgan of "trivialising" a discussion on banning contact in school sports.

Academics, in an article published on Tuesday, argued "harmful contact" such as tackles and scrums should be prohibited on school playing fields.

Allyson Pollock and Graham Kirkwood from the Institute of Health at Newcastle University said most injuries in youth rugby occur due to the collision elements of the game and could have lasting impacts on both education and health.

The matter was discussed on Good Morning Britain when host Piers Morgan made his thoughts clear on the matter saying a ban would "kill the sport".

He asked academic Allyson Pollock if she would be in favour of banning tackles from football, punching in boxing, tug of war as people could burn their hands on the rope or even sticks from hockey.

He denied he was making light of the argument, but said he was "taking the argument to its logical conclusion".

He said his sons played "top level" rugby describing it as a "magnificent sport, played by magnificent athletes" and the benefits of children playing sport was ignored.

"The whole point of rugby is the collision," he said.

"If you remove the element of injury or risk from school sport you are killing off school sport. No kid wants to play tag rugby."

However, the father of Ben Robinson, who died in 2011 while playing school rugby, said the controversial host was "trivialising" the issue. While not for an outright ban, his father Peter said the amount of contact in training should be reduced with mandatory concussion training for coaches.

Ben (14) was the first person in Northern Ireland to die from what is now known as "second impact syndrome". having been sent back into action in a junior rugby match between his school, Carrickfergus Grammar, and Dalriada, for a further 25 minutes after sustaining a severe blow to the head during the match on January 29, 2011.

The teenager died of his injuries two days later in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Since Ben's death, his father Peter has become a high-profile campaigner, raising awareness of the potentially lethal effects of concussion.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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