Call for ban on school rugby tackle and scrum – but mouthguards remain a ‘must have’

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Experts are calling for a ban on tackle and scrum in school rugby.

With evidence suggesting that collision sports carry high rates of injury, researchers are calling on the government to ‘put the interests of the child before the interests of corporate professional rugby unions’ and remove the tackle and other forms of harmful contact from the school game.

Rugby union and rugby league are the most commonly played collision sports in the physical education curriculum of schools in England. 

A recent evidence review of youth sports found that rugby, ice hockey and American football had the highest concussion rates in children. 

Other studies show that rugby-related injury emergency department attendances in the US are on the rise, in particular head and face injuries, which make up more than a third of injuries.

In order to reduce concussion risk in sport, they believe that the evidence for wearing protective equipment, such as mouthguards, is weak. 

However, mouthguard wear is essential in order to protect your teeth, says dentists.


A mouthguard is a plastic horseshoe-shaped cover that fits exactly over the teeth and gums, cushioning them and protecting them from damage.

Dentist James Goolnik, of Bow Lane Dental in the city of London, explains: ‘Mouthguards offer unbeatable protection against sports injuries, such as breaking or damaging teeth and dislocating jaws. ‘

The British Dental Association, the Rugby Football Union and the English Hockey Association all recommend that only custom-fit mouthguards should be worn.

James explains: ‘A custom-fit mouthguard is made from moulds of your mouth and offers the best protection. It features indentations of the lower teeth on its biting surface so the lower jaw is safely immobilised on impact, preventing reverberation of the brain. A custom-fit mouthguard also has your name imprinted on it – so it will not be mixed up on the field or in the locker rooms!’

And don’t worry if you wear braces. James says: ‘Your dentist can design a mouthguard around your braces. It will not only protect the teeth but also prevent the inside of the lips and cheeks from becoming cut by the wires of the brace in the event of an impact to the face.’

7 top tips for looking after your mouthguard

  1. Clean your mouthguard with cool water after each use
  2. Once a week, give your guard a more thorough cleaning with a toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash
  3. Dry the night guard thoroughly before placing it in its container
  4. Use special cleansing tablets, such as Retainer Brite 
  5. NEVER machine wash or place your mouthguard in the dishwasher
  6. At all times, it should either be in your protective carrying case or your mouth!
  7. Get the fit checked out by a dentist annually 

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