Seventy British doctors and health experts are calling for schools in the UK and the Republic to ban tackling in rugby to prevent serious injuries. Did you ever hear anything so stupid in your life? What's next? Should we ban punching in boxing?
Who are these dour colorless doctors and health experts and what is their agenda? Contact sports by definition will always include bodily contact between humans whether it is a boxer trying to knock the other guy out or the tackler trying to put an opponent to ground. Take the contact element out and nobody will want be a spectator. Worse again, young people won't want to take part. So I would ask these self-appointed white coats, "Would a lack of exercise lead to obesity and disease?"
Hundreds of thousands of people are killed or injured on our roads each year. If you used the same logic as these bozos you would ban motor vehicles from moving. People would still be permitted to sit in their car in the driveway and play with all the buttons and knobs, even turn the lights on and off. But engaging a gear and setting the metal coffin in motion would bring an immediate fine and confiscation of the car.
I wrote about the feminisation of the male in a previous article and this nonsense is merely more of the same. Doctors talk of risk as something to be avoided at all costs whereas very often it is the risk that is the enticement to try something. This is even more true of the teenage and twenty-something male. Another golden rule of life is that, "The bigger the risk, the greater the reward." Mankind would never have discovered fire had some bloke somewhere not taken a risk. I have no doubt that had those doctors been around when it happened they would have immediately warned against, "Playing with fire."
So that they won't be seen as killjoys, these white coats recommend touch rugby to replace the tackle. Touch rugby is something the backs do in training and it has its place there. But there is no substitute for full balls-on tackles to let a bloke know what he's in for in a competitive game. Boys of every age love it and more mature men love to watch it and think back to their own years of the fight. The tackle is only one aspect of what is a game of courage, talent and speed. However, if you ban the contact tackle all of the other superb sights in rugby will just become pointless and meaningless.
When your only perspective on the game is treating the fallout of almighty collisions then it is understandable you would arrive at a warped opinion like this. Nobody playing rugby wants to see a teammate or an opponent going down with a serious injury and the watching crowd don't like to see it either. Indeed the greatest proponents of the game, the All Blacks, will always run for clear space rather than contact. The skill in this is knowing crunch tackles lie all around you and avoiding them. That is how spaces open up in defenses and memorable tries are scored. It is the essence of the sport. Remove the risk of those tackles and there is simply no point in making the supreme effort.
I have no doubt that these seventy British doctors and health experts are the same voices demanding an end to drink sponsorship also. Rugby and beer are like bread and butter in this regard and neither Heineken not Guinness appeal to nondrinkers. But a day out to an International or even a club game without a few pints would be like heading for a picnic at the seaside in the pouring rain. Why would you bother? I asked the question, "Who are these colourless people," because their point of view is so black and white without even some shades of grey. The rest of us though will gravitate to a bit of colour in our own lives, hence the divide between our reality and their aspirations.
Finally, there is the knotty matter of accountability. I would dearly love to see these so-called health experts being held accountable and liable for their actions. If by using their undoubted influence they should stop drinks sponsorship for example, then they should be made to personally pay for any fall-out that happens as a result. By this I mean, should Munster Rugby find themselves unable to pay the team salaries then the advising health experts should be made to pay them out of their own interfering pockets. I wonder if that alone would test the courage of their convictions?