select search filters
roundups & rapid reactions
factsheets & briefing notes
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to Opinion article suggesting tackle and scrum should be banned in school rugby

An opinion piece, published in the BMJ, argues that tackle and scrum should be banned in school rugby because head injury is associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, adding to existing evidence that head injury may lead to neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Parkinson’s disease.


Prof. Tara Spires-Jones, UK Dementia Research Institute Programme Lead and Deputy Director, Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, said:

“Very strong, reproducible evidence supports a greater risk of dementia in people who have head injuries in their lifetimes, which urges caution in games where there is a significant risk of head injury.  However, the data on specifically whether playing rugby or other contact sports in school increases your risk of dementia are not as robust yet due to a lack of large prospective studies (see for example JAMA Neurol. 2017;74(8):898-899. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.1324).  It is also very clear that there are many health risks of leading a sedentary lifestyle.”


* ‘Tackle and scrum should be banned in school rugby’ by Allyson M Pollock et al. published in the BMJ on Tuesday 26 September 2017.


Declared interests

Prof. Tara Spires-Jones: “I am employed by the University of Edinburgh and am a member of the Grant Review Board for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”

in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag