Imposing compulsory rugby union on school children: An analysis of English state-funded secondary schools.

Adam White, John Batten, Eric Anderson, Rory McGrath, Joe Piggin, Peter Millward, Keith Parry, MELANIE LANG, Rachael Bullingham, Gary Turner, Jack Hardwicke, Connor Humphries, Graham Kirkwood, Allyson Pollock

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    Objective: to establish the extent to which contact rugby is a compulsory physical education activity in state-funded secondary schools in England and to understand the views of Subject Leaders for Physical Education with respect to injury risk.
    Method: a cross-sectional research study using data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) from 288 state-funded secondary schools.
    Results: Rugby Union is delivered in 81% (n = 234) of state-funded secondary school physical education curricula and 83% (n = 229) of state-funded secondary school boys’ physical education curricular. Rugby Union is a compulsory activity in 91% (n = 208 of 229) of state-funded secondary schools that deliver contact rugby as part of the boys’ physical education curriculum. Rugby Union is perceived by Subject Leaders for Physical Education to have the highest risk of harm of the activities they deliver in their school physical education curriculum.
    Conclusion: Notwithstanding discussions of appropriate measures (i.e., mandatory concussion training, rugby specific qualifications and CPD) to reduce injury risk, is recommended that contact Rugby Union should not be a compulsory activity given it has a high-risk of injury and is an unnecessary risk for children in physical education.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2022


    • concussion
    • brain injury
    • youth rugby
    • safeguarding children
    • youth sport

    Research Institutes

    • Institute for Social Responsibility

    Research Centres

    • Centre for Child Protection & Safeguarding in Sport


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