27 Sep 2017

World Rugby says tackle study is 'extreme and alarmist'

8:19 am on 27 September 2017

A UK study calling for a ban on tackling in school rugby is "extreme and alarmist", World Rugby says.

Children play a school rugby game near the Takapuna Rugby Football Club on 3 September 2011, ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Children play a school rugby game in Takapuna, Auckland, ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (file photo). Photo: AFP

Professor Allyson Pollock, from Newcastle University, has urged the UK's chief medical officers to remove contact from the school game.

She is presenting new evidence that banning tackling would reduce head and neck injuries and concussion.

But the sport's governing body says her conclusions are "simply not supported by the data".

A statement read: "World Rugby and its member unions take player safety and welfare very seriously and proactively pursue an evidence-based approach to reduce the risk of injury at all levels.

"Contrary to Pollock's opinion, the systematic published studies where injury has been properly defined and monitored suggest the risk for pre-teens is not unacceptably high compared to other popular sports.

"It is well documented that, for most sports, injury rates increase with age and yet the research quoted mixes 9-12 with 18-20 age groups."

Welsh referee Nigel Owens tweeted: "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 too?"