Scrums to stay in NZ school rugby

2:21 pm on 3 March 2016

The New Zealand Rugby Union has no plans to remove contact rugby from schools, despite calls from British doctors to ban it there.

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. Photo: AFP

A group of 70 doctors has written to the British government asking it to take tackles and scrums out of school rugby.

In the open letter, the doctors said schools had a duty of care to their students and were putting them at risk of concussion and other serious injuries if they played contact rugby.

Read the open letter from the Sport Collision Injury Collective (PDF, 134KB)

"Studies show that the risks of injuries for those aged under 18 years are high and injuries are often serious," the letter said.

"The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum. These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries can have short-term, life-long, and life-ending consequences for children."

New Zealand Rugby Union general manager of community rugby Brent Anderson said it worked hard alongside ACC to ensure children were safe.

Children played rugby in grades according to their age and weight and were taught the correct techniques as they progressed, he said.

The physicality was a big part of the game, he said.

"I've had secondary school principals ask for a longer rugby season because the boys' behaviour in the classroom and their ability to learn is actually helped by the fact they've got out and had a blow-out."

About 123,000 children play rugby in this country.

In 2014, ACC received 28,000 claims for rugby injuries from under-18s, of which 1300 were concussions.

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