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Nicoletti Walker Law Group March 31, 2016

A study released in the recent issue of the British Medical Journal Case Reports journal—along with a letter signed by many doctors, health experts, and academics—indicates that teenage rugby players are suffering from severe injuries that typically coincide with serious car accidents. These somewhat rare injuries include, for example, acetabular fractures, which are typically sustained after violent trauma and tend to occur along with hip dislocations. These experts are now suggesting that—in order to avoid these severe injuries—rule changes that include size restrictions need to be implemented immediately if the sport is to continue amongst those under the age of 18.

Specifically, even though students who play rugby against each other in the United States and United Kingdom tend to be around the same age, there are still differences in physical size and bone age, which tend to be magnified during tackles.

There are some who are now calling for a complete ban on tackling, and others who simply recommend that players be classified by size in order to avoid some of the severe injuries that are coming out of size differences, specifically. Others have pointed out that training on proper tackling, at a minimum, could facilitate injury prevention.

Increasingly Dangerous Over Time

Those who have followed the sport over time have remarked that it wasn’t always quite so dangerous; in fact, as the physical profile of players, as well as training, has changed, these changes have permeated all levels and contexts of rugby. However, the sport also faced rule changes, which increased the length of time that players were out in the field, also increasing the overall potential to obtain an injury. Regardless, the Rugby Football Union still maintains that preventing injuries comes down to good “technique and coaching practice.”

Legal Implications Re Children and Injury Risks

Similar to medical experts who have warned about brain injuries in high-contact sports such as football, those addressing rugby also mentioned that it is those under the age of 18 that face the greatest risks when playing the sport. These types of injuries—although potentially treated by surgery and rehabilitation—can have a potentially devastating impact on growth.

While those abroad have pointed out that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child obligates all governments to inform children about injury risks, here in the states, there are also serious legal implications for both schools and clubs that knowingly and/or negligently encourage and allow children to play sports that they know will lead to severe injuries and growth issues. These implications could lead to personal injury claims.

Contact Us if You Need Help

Mike Walker appreciates the seriousness of injuries in young people who are still growing and developing, and can work to obtain compensation to try and address those injuries and the negligence that caused them. If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, talk to an attorney experienced in these specific personal injury areas. Contact the Clearwater office today for a free consultation.