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The headline atop the NY Times article blared, “CONTACT SPORTS CAUSE OVER 600,000 INJURIES A YEAR.” The statistic came from a combined universities’ paper on college and high school contact sports, but, mainly, gridiron football. In addition, the research indicated the rising cost of insurance for contact sports, especially, in private schools that charge tuition.
The concussion controversy has been long debated both in the United States and abroad. The latest nationally publicized advisory in America cautioned parents to defer tackle football until after their sons turned 12 to avoid possible brain traumas.
Many parents, especially in academia, have publicly stated they will not allow their children to play any contact sport in high school.
So, what does this trend mean for rugby in the United States? In the short-term, judgmentally, boys’ rugby in high schools should see a marked increase in participation as parents eschew football for rugby. This pattern would escalate geometrically if high schools banned tackle football as being unsafe and overly costly to insure. Entire football programs could migrate to new rugby programs or to expand existing ones. (NB - Lacrosse would also benefit.)
In the near future, it would mean more high schoolers with rugby experience attending colleges. The university rugby boom would have two positive outcomes; (1) increasing rugby population with the probable addition of more fifteens within a college program, and (2) the development of a greater pool of more skilled collegians for national selection.
Finally, any parent in the United States who does research on rugby as a sport, will discover that World Rugby has a defined Concussion Guidance standard, which strictly enforces defined rules for concussion protocol during game play.