Review of rugby in schools calls for evidence from teachers

Rugby in Schools review, led by United Learning chief Sir Jon Coles, comes amid heightened awareness of head injuries

Rugby in Schools review, led by United Learning chief Sir Jon Coles, comes amid heightened awareness of head injuries

15 Feb 2023, 13:11

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A review of rugby in schools is calling for evidence from interested parties

A review looking at how to “future proof” rugby in schools is calling for evidence from teachers, parents and coaches. 

It comes amid what the review group describes as “significant threats” that have led to a decline in take-up in schools, such as the “heightened perception” of the risks it poses to health, including head injuries.

The Rugby in Schools review, led by United Learning academy trust chief executive Sir Jon Coles, will make recommendations to the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on how best to grow the sport in schools over the next decade.

Health implications as a result of the full contact sport have been under heightened scrutiny in recent years. 

The RFU and other rugby union authorities face two major lawsuits from players over allegations of negligence in their failure to protect them from brain injuries. 

Meanwhile, the legal tackle height has been lowered to the waist across English community rugby from next season in an effort to reduce head impact exposure. 

Review will consider how game could be adapted

“At its best, rugby is a game with great values which teaches respect, discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship,” Coles told Schools Week

“At the same time, the perception of rugby as a risky game has grown and threatens its continued growth and success in schools.”

He added that the review would look at what the “future” of the game in schools should be and what forms of non-contact or reduced contact will make it easier to introduce. 

Those with an interest in school sport or rugby, including teachers, parents and coaches, have been encouraged to share their views online by February 21. 

“The call for evidence is an important part of making sure we understand the views of everyone who cares about physical activity and sport in schools,” said Coles.

He added this would enable the review group to understand “the current issues for people playing rugby in schools and for those choosing not to”. 

The review began in November and is due to report its recommendations to the RFU Community Game Board and RFU Council at the end of April. 

As well as challenges to the continuation of the sport in schools, the group will also consider opportunities, including the “very strong” growth of the women and girl’s game in recent years.

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