Red Tape to Rugby

Is it too risky to be playing contact rugby in schools - or taking part in school adventures overseas?

Earlier this year, papers were filled with a spate of articles proposing a ban on contact rugby in schools. Health experts have cited that the sport leads to dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries, all of which can have both short and long term consequences.

In a related field, over a quarter of school staff surveyed in 2011 said British Bulldog had been banned on their school playgrounds due to the amount of injuries the game generates.

In January this year, a primary school banned birthday cake over fears they may result in allergic reactions.

So, is it any wonder children today spend on average five hours a day on the internet or watching TV? At least we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are safe.

But… are they?

Risk can be defined as: a situation involving exposure to danger. And yes, while watching TV may pose little risk of our kids breaking an arm in the short term, what does it pose a threat to in the long term? Will a generation of screen zombies struggle to communicate and interact with other people? Will there be health issues? Will they miss out on the adventure and challenge of life?

Remember back to your childhood, was it not that little fizzle of fear that made an activity all the better?

Last season, I broke my collar bone while snowboarding. That hobby is defined as an ‘extreme sport’ and potentially has a high risk factor for a bucketful of injuries. Yet I still do it. Not to mention schools across the country who take pupils on ski and snow sport trips. Should we ban these too and just let pupils walk through the snow? Although I guess there is always a worry that they might slip on ice…

In today’s society we are bombarded with messages to keep us safe and yet some of the most dangerous things we encounter are everyday activities. It’s just that we have become blind to the real risks. Did you know three peoplea day die on UK roads each year?

So, maybe it’s time to reassess how we look at school activities? Yes, we should make an effort to ensure that we do our utmost to keep our kids safe, but let’s not forget that somewhere along the line they have to have fun. In the long run, isn’t the experience and memory worth a lot more than the risk of a twisted ankle or a dislocated shoulder during a game of rugby?