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Rapid response to:

Reviews Personal views

Rugby union should ban contested scrums

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1281

Rapid Response:

Junior Rugby - Scrums ARE contested

The author's statement that contested scrums are not allowed in the
under 19 game is incorrect. Scrums in schoolboy games are certainly
contested. The differences from the senior game in terms of contesting are
that the scrum cannot be wheeled more than 45 degrees as opposed to 90
degrees, and the scrum is not allowed to be pushed more than 1.5 metres.

He also incorrect in stating that in rugby league, pushing has not
been allowed since 1996. It is technically still allowed according to the
rule book, but it is accepted in the game that is it not done.

As someone who played rugby union from a very early age and is still
playing now, I have to disagree with the author's opinion. I have never
personally played in a game with such an injury in over 20 years, and the
scrum does not just allow a tactical advantage - games are won and lost
there. I attended a rugby-playing school in England where an excellent
coach taught safety at the scrum first, then competent technique.
Competent refereeing is also important in keeping players safe. The
majority of rugby union players, a hugely popular social game in the UK,
are not professional and therefore would not be covered under the Health
and Safety at Work Act. I agree it is only right that players suffering
such injuries are compensated adequately, and national union insurance
policies should reflect this. Despite this, as members of their respective
unions, rugby players are in a better position for such compensation than
those idependently undertaking such activities as horse-riding and
skiing/snowboarding where the risk may be higher, and any injuries
sustained would be accountable only by themselves. The unfortunate
personal experiences the author has witnessed do not give sufficient case
to change a game hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the way it is,
despite knowing what could happen.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 May 2006
Dylan M Wilson
Paediatric Registrar