Many parents struggle to get their children to exercise on a regular basis. The idea of them having fun on the football or rugby pitch seems far preferable to them staying inside texting. But recent reports, including one in the BMJ from a paediatric neurosurgeon describing some typical rugby injuries, may change that. Let’s face it: as parents it is hard not to cover them up in bubble wrap!
As both a consultant and a rugby parent himself, Michael Carter argues from both corners. From his vast experience he argues that children are just as at risk of injury as adult players. The problems occur when children or those in their early teens play together in a squad. There is generally a lack of skill and the knowledge to avoid injury, not to mention very big height and weight differences within the whole squad. Larger kids can easily squash the smaller ones when tackling. Furthermore, the nature of the game itself sees players encouraged to continue playing despite injury. While this is a great way to toughen players up, it does mean some injuries, particularly things like concussion, can be overlooked, with the potential for lasting damage to occur.
So What Is the Solution?
How can parents achieve the right balance? Reliable data for injury frequency and severity in rugby kids is difficult to find. However, a careful review of fifteen studies found that per 1000 match hours there were from 27.5 to 129.8 injuries which required medical attention, with 3.3 per 1000 hours for concussion. This is a wide variation but is a result of the different ways data as collected in each study.
Despite this data, there are things which can be done to prevent injury and minimise the danger on the field. Firstly, ensure that coaches are trained in first aid and that students wear the correct safety equipment.
Teaching players the skills they need to avoid injury and building their strength through careful training are also very important. For training advice, watch a rugby drill video such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/.
As with any type of sport, injuries can occur. However, through careful management children can have a fantastic time on the rugby field and need not worry that they are going to get hurt.