Schools Rugby: ‘Tis the Season fast approaching

The letter I wish parents would receive from their kid’s rugby coach this rugby season…

Dear Parents,

As a rugby coach, I understand you may have concerns about your child’s safety on the field this coming season.

Rugby is a high-contact sport. And yes, there is a risk of injury to players, especially to the head, face, and body – even at training.

I want to assure you that the safety of your child is our top priority.

We take every precaution to ensure that our players are protected from injury on the field, through the use of preventative measures: protective equipment and comprehensive training in correct technique.

Accordingly, expect your precious little darling to be exhausted by week’s end as we conduct daily drills as part of our comprehensive training regime.

We follow the philosophy that consistent drills sessions instil proper technique for the purposes of injury prevention while also having the added benefit of increasing dopamine and serotonin levels and therefore increasing the kid’s enjoyment!

Accordingly, just like our compulsory skills sessions, protective equipment is not ‘optional’. We expect our players to wear the following:

  • Mouthguards – they are worn to protect the teeth, gums, lips, and tongue from injury during collisions or falls (yes we know, these can be a choking hazard if a player gets knocked out, but they are also easy to remove!)
  • Headgear – to help protect the head from impacts and reduce the risk of lacerations or other types of head trauma. (any reduction of risk is good right?)
  • Shoulder pads – to protect the shoulders, upper body, and torso from impacts during tackles or collisions.
  • Football boots – provide traction on the field, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

While some may argue that protective equipment is unnecessary or that it may even increase the risk of injury, we firmly believe that the benefits of protective equipment on our player’s face, mouth, head, sternum and feet far outweigh any potential risks.

To be frank, we don’t buy into the ‘they do more damage than good’ debate because we’ve played rugby barefoot (little rocks between your tootsies hurt!).

We’ve seen first hand the reduction of abrasions post match in amateurs and pros alike – so the days of ‘Ruck back’ are no longer a badge of honour.

We’ve also sat by hospital beds of players with ‘just a concussion’ for days as they ask the same four questions over again, and the long term memories impacted years on.

We’ve seen the ‘war wounds’ from cauliflower ears to neurological conditions developed by former pro rugby players and we know the proper protection when made for purpose and made to fit – helps keep our players – your kids – safe.

Protective sports equipment is designed to help reduce the risk of injury and improve player safety on the field.

At the risk of repeating myself, properly fitted equipment, combined with comprehensive training and injury prevention and management, can help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall player safety.

So I urge you not to be drawn into the old school macho warrior debate about wear protection versus don’t wear protection.

That’s a debate largely sprouted by those who ‘back in the day’ had their rugby ‘career’ cut short by a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder or back injury; or a former pro footballer who didn’t gear up (or more likely can’t remember gearing up).

Instead, I encourage you to focus on the safety and well-being of your child now, and support our efforts to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all players to the best of our ability.

Thank you for entrusting us with the care of your child. We take that responsibility seriously and will continue to do everything we can to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being so they can take the field and any bumps and scrapes that come their way.

Yours in Rugby Always,

Matt Star (aka Me)

Rugby coach of the Year 2023

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