08 Aug Is Rugby a Safe Sport for America’s Youth?
Brought to you by Atlanta Youth Rugby by Lyle J. Micheli, MD
Commentary by a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine
I support efforts to establish rugby teams in American high schools and colleges, and wish to alleviate any possible concerns about the sport’s relative safety. I think I offer a unique perspective on the subject given that:
- I have been closely involved in rugby as a player and supporter since the early 1960s when I began playing the sport as a Harvard undergraduate, and
- I am a physician who is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine; I am the author of over 200 scholarly journal articles on sports medicine (including the first-ever published study of rugby injuries in the United States); in my practice I have treated athletes of all ages from sports as varied as figure skating and football; and I am the chairman of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
A popular sport worldwide
Rugby is a dynamic contact sport that is played all over the world by men and women of all different classes,creeds, and races. It fosters friendship and camaraderie between players. To celebrate one recent Christmas, men from the American and New Zealand research stations in Antarctica played a game of rugby against each other on those southernmost frozen wastelands. Most rugby players have played with and against people from other nations.
Rugby is played in over 100 countries and is the most popular team sport in nations such as Japan, Fiji, and Wales. This sport could not be as popular as it is among the peoples of so many different cultures if it were dangerous! In fact, the risk of injury in rugby is relatively low compared to sports Americans embrace – such as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse – a fact borne-out by numerous studies to ascertain the risk of sports injury in different activities. The reasons for this are quite straightforward to those of us who study sports medicine.