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News briefs

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UK experts want ban on tackling in school rugby

More than 70 UK doctors and health experts have written an open letter addressed to government ministers, chief medical officers and children’s commissioners, calling for a ban on tackling in school rugby games, The Guardian reports. “The majority of all injuries occur during contact or collision, such as the tackle and the scrum,” the letter says. “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.” Rugby is a compulsory part of the UK physical education curriculum from the age of 11 in many boys’ schools, particularly in the independent sector, The Guardian says. The letter’s authors urged schools to move to touch and non-contact versions of the game. “Repeat concussions have been found to have a link to cognitive impairment, and an association with problems such as depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities. Children also took longer to recover to normal levels on measures of memory, reaction speed and post-concussive symptoms.” The Rugby Football Union said it took player safety “extremely seriously” and that recent changes meant young players underwent a “gradual and managed” introduction to the contact version of the game.