Since its professionalization in 1995, rugby union has grown in popularity to the point that the 2014 Six Nations Championship had a greater average attendance per game than either it’s said the Union of European Football Associations Europe Cup 2012 or the FIFA World Cup 2014. With the Rugby World Cup in full flow, the game is receiving more attention than ever before. Is it, however, secure?
Rugby union and rugby league are two of the five sports on which the UK government will focus in order to boost the importance of competitive sport in England’s schools.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has pledged to ‘engage with sports, football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, and lawn tennis to create a minimum of 6,000 relationships ” between faculties and native sports clubs by 2017.” the govt. intends to determine 1,300 linkages between schools and rugby union organizations, furthermore as 1,000 links between rugby league and schools.
Rugby is a high-impact collision sport in which players must use tremendous power to gain and keep control of the ball. Injuries are common; depending on the term employed, the probability of a player being injured in a season might be as high as 90% in certain studies. The bulk of injuries, at least 75%, happen during contact or collisions, such as tackles and scrums. The tackle accounts for two-thirds of all concussions. Traumatic and repeated brain injury is a typical occurrence in the community game, with one head injury or concussion every match, with concussion being common in the children’s game.
Repeat concussions have been linked to minor cognitive impairment in young adult male rugby players, as well as depression, memory loss, and worse verbal fluency.
Repeat concussions have also been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a gradual degenerative condition of the brain that affects those who have had repeated head trauma. There’s a link between Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. Memory loss, disorientation, decreased judgment, impulse control issues, anger, depression, and, finally, dementia are all symptoms of degeneration.
Given that children are more vulnerable to concussions and require longer to recover, the government’s proposal to promote rugby participation in schools in the absence of a complete injury surveillance and prevention system (including tertiary prevention and rehabilitation) is concerning.
Many nations, including the United Kingdom, have insufficient mechanisms for monitoring child injuries. Governments are required under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to inform and protect children from harm. Before moving forward with plans to focus financing and boost participation in a high-risk contact sport like rugby, the UK government should assure the safety and efficacy of sports – notably injury surveillance and prevention initiatives – as a signatory to the convention.
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A Catastrophic Risk
In light of mounting evidence of rugby-related injuries, the UK government may find itself on the receiving end of legal action. It would be wise to follow New Zealand’s lead, which has the world’s only comprehensive national dataset on rugby injuries, gathered by the government’s Accident Compensation Corporation since April 1974. (ACC).
The ACC has a legal obligation to prevent harm, which means it must track injuries and collaborate with appropriate parties on preventative efforts. Anyone who sustains an injury in New Zealand is entitled to financial compensation and support, regardless of fault or citizenship.
Rugby officials must report every head or neck injury that occurs on their watch – as well as any injury requiring hospitalization or an absence from the play of eight weeks or more – to guarantee that the state retains legal responsibility for rugby injuries. Nothing analogous exists in the United Kingdom, and the sport’s governing organizations there are fiercely opposed to the implementation of thorough surveillance.
Many efforts, including concussion management procedures, have been pushed out by the four rugby unions of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, but none have been reviewed. The majority of catastrophic rugby injuries are avoidable and preventable. However, prevention necessitates significant adjustments to the game’s rules. It entails removing the element of collision, notably the tackle. World Rugby’s medical director, Martin Raftery, has suggested that the rules of rugby may need to be changed to lessen concussion risk, but World Rugby is dragging its heels in dealing with the deadly tackle.
World Rugby sets the rules of the game, although it is primarily concerned with professional rugby and business. The Rugby World Cup is predicted to bring the UK economy over £1 billion this year. The issue for youngsters is that the regulations of rugby in schools are determined by World Rugby and the rugby unions. The connection between the professional game and the children’s game should be removed; the children’s game’s administration should not be controlled by World Rugby and the Rugby Unions.
“Let’s call the current condition of monitoring and prevention of rugby injury in schools what it is: a disgrace,” Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, stated in January 2015. It must be addressed immediately before additional children and their families suffer as a result of collective negligence.” The game should be made safer, according to 72 percent of physicians polled by the British Medical Journal.
When their children are at school, parents want the government to look after them. The UK government has abdicated its responsibility to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by enabling the sport’s own regulatory bodies to select what, if any, information to gather and to define the rules of the game for minors.
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