To ban the tackle in under-age rugby would be the most catastrophically dangerous decision rugby could make. It would increase the amount of life-threatening injuries in early adulthood players.
How could it possibly do this?
Very simply, if you ban the tackle in under-age rugby then No player will have been coached in or made a real tackle until they play in a senor adult game at the age of 18.
So consider this.
You are an 18 year old player, male or female. It’s the first pre-season game of your adult rugby playing career. You are playing against a hardened team of men/women with the realistically average age of 27. They are battle hardened. They have been coached the tackle since they were 6 years of age. They have taken real contact for 21 years. (By, the way if you remove the tackle then you remove the contact also). They have been tackling and receiving tackles all there playing career. It comes natural to them.
The ball is kicked off. The opposition 120kg, No.8 catches the kick off and runs directly at you. You have a few options
a. run out of the way and let him/her score and deal with the phycologicial trauma of a life time of “negative banter” from your team mates.
b. do as above but realise you are not prepared correctly for adult rugby and walk off the pitch and never play again whilst still enduring the constant reminders of your “cowardly act” from all who saw it. (By the way, if this was your decision it was not a cowardly act it was the smartest , most intelligent, life preserving move you could have made).
c. Try and attempt the tackle on your opponent. The tackle that that you have never been coached to make or have ever made before this moment in time in your eighteenth year. You have no tackle experience or technique. You attempt the tackle.
What is the most probable out come of this collision? I would suggest the outcome would be a negative one for you. I believe the chances of a catostrophic injury in this senario would be immeasurably greater than if you had been tackling since you started playing at 6 years old.
If the decision makers entertain this idea of banning the tackle from under-age rugby it will definetly lead to a massive increase in life threatening injuries in young adult players.
Writing this article I have until now resisted the urge in pointing out that banning the tackle is a kin to banning the game of rugby entirely. The only way to reduce the risk of catastropic injuries to an acceptable level of zero is to to ban the entire game. I’m sure all will agree that a catastrophic injury level of zero is the only really truly acceptable level.
To ban the tackle is to change the game into a game that is not rugby.
I acknowledge the doctors who are proposing this change are doing it to increase the safety of youth rugby players which is an honourable way to think but by doing this they will actually dramatically increase catastophic injuries and cause more deaths on the pitch.
Yes, it may reduce “serious injuries” such as shoulder dislocations, broken legs etc but it most definately will increase “catastrophic” injuries such as broke necks, paralysation and death.
By the way, there is a sport kids can play with a rugby ball without a tackle. It is called Touch/Tag rugby. If guardians are afraid of the risk of “real rugby”, touch rugby is a great game to play. But if these medical people think that playing touch rugby for 18 years is good and safe preparation for “real adult” rugby then they are completely wrong.
If this rule ever came in at schools level then for safety reasons you would have to bring it in to adult rugby thus destroying the game of rugby