Rugby world rounds on idea of outlawing tackling in schools

Allyson Pollock and Graham Kirkwood have called for tackling and scrummaging to be banned from school rugby. Mead Norton/Getty Images

World Rugby has joined several of the game's big names in rejecting the idea of a ban on tackling at school level.

A study conducted at Newcastle University's Institute of Health urged the government to remove "harmful contact" such as scrummaging and tackling from school rugby in a bid to "reduce and mitigate the risk of injury" and "ensure the safety of children."

The suggestion sparked widespread criticism, and a spokesperson for World Rugby said: "World Rugby and its member unions take player safety very seriously and proactively pursue an evidence-based approach to reduce the risk of injury at all levels.

"The continual claims made are not based on like-for-like injury statistics and her extreme and alarmist conclusions are simply not supported by the data. It is well documented that, for most sports, injury rates increase with age, but the quoted research mixes 9-12 with 18-20 age groups."

Referee Nigel Owens was equally dismissive -- commenting via social media: "They will want to ban walking to school next. And only rubber pens and pencils to be used in class. What is the world coming to?"

Former England captain Will Carling offered an alternative method to diminishing the risk of injuries in young players.

Another former England player, James Simpson-Daniel, appeared to adopt a more sarcastic tone, adding:

The campaign, led by Allyson Pollock and Graham Kirkwood, saw the nation's most senior medics reject an attempt last year to introduce a tackling ban in youth rugby.