It is not long ago that Scottish Rugby implemented reforms to prevent dangerous mismatches caused by physically immature players playing against and with physically mature players. However, should school pupils in Scotland be encouraged to participate in competitive rugby at all, given that many brain injury experts warn against playing the sport because of the risk of concussion and long-term damage?
That was the question asked by The Scotsman newspaper as it detailed the findings of a new study which criticises the level of monitoring, information and awareness of brain injury among the players of rugby at youth level.
In fact, the research, which was carried out by the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health at Queen Mary University of London and published in the British Medical Journal, underlined that schools, rugby clubs and other authorities who fail to take action to prevent brain injury among rugby players are failing in their duty of care.
The study pointed out that New Zealand remains the only country in the world with a holistic and comprehensively designed programme for the monitoring of serious injuries among young rugby players, RugbySmart. Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research at Queen Mary, urged the government here to introduce a similar initiative.
"Given that children are more susceptible to injuries such as concussion and often take longer to recover fully, the government's plan to increase funding of and participation in rugby in schools in the absence of a comprehensive system for injury surveillance and prevention – including tertiary prevention and rehabilitation – is worrying," said Pollock.
"Only by collecting injury data and by providing feedback to individuals and organisations working on safety initiatives will the short and long term effects of injury prevention programmes, whether for rugby or any other sport, be known."
If you would like to consider yours or your child's possible right to compensation following a sports-related incident, contact the brain and head injury solicitors at Thompsons Scotland today. Click here for more information.