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rugby

Doctors urge schools to ban tackling in rugby

More than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.  In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children.  They argue two thirds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.  Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging.  The concerns have been raised as a seven-year programme headed by the Rugby Football Union is on target to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.  The RFU’s programme, which began in 2012 and is running until 2019, has so far reached 400 schools, with 350 to follow.

‘Fractures and dislocations’

But, in their letter to ministers, chief medical officers and children’s commissioners in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, doctors say the risks for players aged under 18 are high.  They say many secondary schools in the UK deliver contact rugby as a compulsory part of the physical education curriculum from the age of 11.  “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, lifelong and life-ending consequences for children.”  The doctors say concussion is a common injury, and they highlight a link between “repeat concussions and cognitive impairment and an association with depression, memory loss and diminished verbal abilities”.  One of the signatories of the open letter is Prof Allyson Pollock, from Queen Mary University of London, who has long campaigned about the dangers of rugby.

She said evidence collected over 12 years showed rugby players up to the age of 18 or 19 had a 28% chance of getting injured over a season of 15 matches.  “If you’re thinking of a million children playing every year with this risk of injury you’re looking at 300,000 extra injuries a year, including up to 100,000 concussions,” she said.  She added that 90% of injuries resulted in more than seven days lost from school.  There are various forms of touch or tag rugby, in which tackles are replaced by touching a player or removing a tag from their clothing. Aspects of rugby such as scrums and rucks are also excluded from these forms of the game.

Jonny Cross, a PE teacher at Congleton High School in Cheshire – where rugby is compulsory from the age of 11 – says the sport provides a challenge.  Mr Cross says children wear gum-shields and are taught how to maintain the proper posture in scrums to avoid injury, a technique known as “tower of power”.  “Contact rugby helps build character. They are putting their body on the line in a match. The risk factor is part of it,” he says.  “They enjoy the contact element. There is a ‘boy factor’ – it’s partly about developing masculinity. They would be more likely to be bored by touch rugby.  “I would say that some students need it. It provides a challenge, where challenge is being taken out of everyday life.”  Mr Cross says children wear gum-shields and are taught how to maintain the proper posture in scrums to avoid injury, a technique known as “tower of power”.  “Contact rugby helps build character. They are putting their body on the line in a match. The risk factor is part of it,” he says.  “They enjoy the contact element. There is a ‘boy factor’ – it’s partly about developing masculinity. They would be more likely to be bored by touch rugby.  “I would say that some students need it. It provides a challenge, where challenge is being taken out of everyday life.”  The RFU and the Welsh Rugby Union both said they took player safety “extremely seriously” but that rugby was a “fantastic sport for children” which offered many benefits for society.

The Scottish Rugby Union said it was “committed to player welfare at every level of the game” but pointed out that every sport carried “an element of risk”.

Southern hemisphere

South African schools allow tackling, as do schools in Australia – although there has been a recent push to make children wear protective headgear, but this is not compulsory.  In New Zealand, tackling is permitted, but in some schools it is banned in lunchtime games that are not being supervised.  Former England rugby player Matt Perry said: “I took a risk when I started rugby at seven and I’m afraid at school level if that tackle is taken out we’ve lost one of the great games and one of the great cultural games.”  Former England international Brian Moore dismissed the evidence in the letter as “flawed” and “partial”.  Obesity would kill more children than rugby, he said.  “If you want to ban things, you’ve got to do it on the right basis.”

The Association for Physical Education said contact versions of the game should be introduced and managed only by “suitably experienced staff” following recognised guidelines.  “Parents should be aware of what sports are taught in the schools they choose to send their children to – if rugby is taught, then parents send their children to the school in the knowledge that they are likely to be asked to play rugby at some level,” it added.

A spokesman for the Department for Education in England said: “Team sports, such as rugby, play an important role in developing character.  “We expect schools to be aware of the risks associated with sporting activities and to provide a safe environment for pupils.”

2.3.2016 BBC News

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Chelsea's French defender Kurt Zouma

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma suffers Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is expected to be out of action for approximately six months after suffering a horrific knee injury in the Blues’ draw with Manchester United yesterday.  The France defender was in agony as he landed awkwardly from a challenge midway through the second half of the clash at Stamford Bridge.  The 21-year-old has found his feet again under Guus Hiddink but he’s now expected to miss Euro 2016 following injury to his anterior cruciate ligament.  The defender took to Twitter today to confirm that he requires surgery on his ACL and the recovery time from such injuries spans from between six to nine months.

Metro 16.2.2016

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lindsey-vonn-world-cup-super-g

Lindsey Vonn suffers fractured knee in Soldeu fall

Lindsey Vonn suffered a hairline fracture to her left knee after a fall in Andorra on Saturday but says she could even be fit to race on Sunday.  The American, who has a history of knee injuries, started well in poor visibility but failed to hold a corner in the latter stages of the course and crashed off the piste in Soldeu.  The race was interrupted for around 10 minutes as Vonn lay on the snow surrounded by medical staff and coaches before being transported off the hill on a ski-stretcher.  The 31-year-old was unable to stand and was taken to an Andorra hospital, but despite saying she would not get a scan on the injury until Monday, Vonn is not ruling out competing in Sunday’s super-combined race at the same venue.  “Got caught in the soft snow today and crashed pretty hard. X-rays showed I have a hairline fracture in my left knee and will get an MRI on Monday,” Vonn wrote on her Instagram account next to a picture of her knee with a large ice pack on it.

“I will wait and see how I feel tomorrow to decide if I can race. Will keep you updated.”

The race had been due to start in mid-morning, but was delayed for three hours because of the difficult conditions, with strong winds and snowfall also forcing organisers to lower the start.  Chasing her fifth title, Vonn is leading the overall World Cup standings and was 23 points clear of Lara Gut of Switzerland ahead of the Soldeu race.  She claimed her 76th World Cup victory last month, taking her closer to the overall record of 86 held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.  The race was won by Italy’s Federica Brignone who went out early before the snowfall increased in intensity.  She clocked 57.33secs on a shortened course, 0.13secs clear of American Laurenne Ross and 0.37secs better than Tamara Tippler of Austria.  “When I went down it was really good,” Brignone said. “It was not the best conditions for the best racers, but I took advantage of my luck.”  Gut could only finish in 16th place, meaning that she took 15 points to move to within eight points of the stricken Vonn in the standings.

Sky News 27/02/16

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Kobe Bryant Achilles tendon rupture

Kobe Bryant Ruptures Achilles Tendon

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant could be sidelined for up to nine months after tearing his Achilles tendon, the team said Saturday. An MRI later confirmed the tear.

“Bryant elected to have surgery to repair the torn left Achilles tendon,” the team said. “The successful surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Stephen Lombardo of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Group. Recovery time is expected to be a minimum of six to nine months.”

A ruptured Achilles could take up to a year to heal. Bryant has previously said that next season could be his last in the NBA. This is the 16th season in the league for the 34-year-old. Asked if the timetable means Bryant will be back next season, trainer Gary Vitti said on Twitter “that’s the plan.” Bryant reacted with disappointment on social media after the injury.  “This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??

“I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me.”

Later, Bryant called the injury the first step in a new challenge. “One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day,” he wrote. The post received more than 136,000 likes. According to an earlier tweet from the Lakers, Bryant could tell what the injury was before seeing a doctor. “I was just hoping it wasn’t what I thought it was,” Bryant said, according to the tweet. Bryant is the NBA’s fourth all-time leading scorer, and he currently ranks among the top three in the NBA in scoring this season, averaging 27.3 points. This season, he has averaged 5.6 rebounds, a team-high 6.0 assists, 1.36 steals and 38.6 minutes in 78 games.

CNN News

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