Friday, 5 September 2014

The World of Rugby with Gloucester Rugby reporter Mike Brown

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Abolish scrums and tackles at school? Utter nonsense 

A HEALTH expert last week called for scrums and tackles to be abolished from school rugby.

Allyson Pollock, of Queen Mary University of London, claims players have a one-in-six chance of serious injury every season.

Now she is calling for the British Medical Association to campaign against rugby as unsuitable for children.

But that, to me is absolutely ludicrous. What next? Ban children from riding bikes? From climbing trees? From being children?

Yes, rugby is a dangerous sport. Yes, players are getting increasingly bigger and yes that is also the case at school level but let’s not get carried away.

Players can easily suffer a concussion playing football or broken bone on a hockey pitch.

Rugby develops self-discipline, confidence, sportsmanship and leadership like no other sport. It fosters teamwork, hard work and lots of it in a sociable environment.

The benefits of the sport in today’s couch potato, computer obsessed society by far outweighs the risks.

Removing tackling and scrummaging from the game is a recipe for disaster. Wrapping youngsters in cotton wool and then introducing them to the more technical but dangerous aspects of the game when they are older, stronger and more powerful is just frightening. Professor Pollock’s findings do raise some serious questions and they cannot be ignored.

We can all remember turning up on the first day of secondary school and discovering the 6ft behemoth with a beard more hirsute than I can grow even today was also in form one.

Such overgrown lumps of testosterone show no mercy on the field of battle and I witnessed many a bone-crunching tackle that ended a puny player’s rugby future.

In New Zealand school and club rugby between from under-eight to under-13 level is regulated by strict weight grades.

Tip the scales at more than 83kg as a 13-year-old and you are bumped up a year, less than 55kg and you play in restricted teams.

This not only provides a safer, more equal playing field but means there is a bigger emphasis on skill – something to do with the All Blacks superiority?

Perhaps this is the answer in the UK?

While we all must be aware of the growing risks of playing rugby, and more and more is being done to ensure the safety of players, we cannot ignore the undeniable benefits.

Billy will be up for the challenge, that’s for sure

BATH have confirmed Sam Burgess will take centre stage – great news for England fans but perhaps not for Gloucester captain Billy Twelvetrees.

Slammin’ Sam has taken Australian rugby league by storm and he really could do exactly the same in union.

His physical attributes are undeniable, 6ft 5ins, 18st,4lbs and with the speed and skill to match – he is one of the most exciting cross-code converts ever.

England view the former Bradford Bulls ace as their answer to Sonny Bill Williams. Ask any rugby league aficionado and they will tell you this guy could be even better, music to the ears of those already with one eye on the William Webb Ellis Cup.

Stuart Lancaster will now have an embarrassment of riches in the centre with Twelvetrees, Luther Burrell, whom he combined with so well during the Six Nations, Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond and now Burgess all in the mix. With Burgess likely to be deployed at inside centre, Twelvetrees could be the fall guy but less of the possibilities, more certainties, captain Billy will relish the challenge.

Twelvetrees exudes quiet confidence, is physical and has all the subtleties of a ball-playing centre.

The arrival of Burgess will see Twelvetrees raise his game even higher – great news indeed for the Cherry and Whites.

Sinbad deserved so many more England caps

I COULD not write this column without a mention for James Simpson-Daniel. Unfortunately since taking this job I have not seen Simspon-Daniel in action, he had already played his last game for the Cherry and Whites.

But I am well aware of just how good, and how revered at Kingsholm, Sinbad is.

Coming from Wales I am amazed that Simpson-Daniel won just 10 England caps. Yes he was hit by untimely injuries and illnesses but surely he should have been given more opportunities on the world stage.

We had Shane Williams, a player that could beat several defenders inside a phone box. Give him an inch and he would take a metre. He was a diminutive rugby magician, a great entertainer who always defied the odds, who could always do the unexpected and Simpson-Daniel was exactly the same. What a shame that this Gloucester great was not displayed for all to see in the Test arena more often.

Article source:

The World of Rugby with Gloucester Rugby reporter Mike Brown

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