Allyson Pollock talks about her controversial new book, Tackling Rugby


Allyson Pollock's new book, Tackling Rugby: What Every Parent Should Know, has been causing quite a stir since its publication. The book features pioneering research into the true extent of school-level rugby injuries faced by children.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Prof. Pollock says that her research has proven very controversial, provoking online abuse:

“To my horror, I’ve … faced personal abuse for my views, much of it from anonymous men who pepper their emails with swear-words. They say I have no right to comment on rugby, because I’m a woman who has never played the game. That’s ridiculous: I research and write about cancer, but I’ve never had cancer either.”

Prof. Pollock is a leading public health expert and has spent 10 years researching the injury rate in rugby at both professional and school level. Her findings have lead her to the conclusion that not enough is done to protect the well-being of children during games. 

I’m not calling for a ban on rugby at school. I’m calling for parents to be given information so they know the risks, and I want to see rugby made safer for children, with an end to scrums and tackles — where nearly all the injuries occur.

Tim Lewis, writing in the Observer, contrasts the story of Pollock's son Hamish with James Gray, a rugby mad 12 year who ended up in a wheelchair after sustaining injuries whilst playing rugby at school. Lewis notes that such injuries are surprisingly common.

For boys in the 1st and 2nd XVs – the most committed players – 70% had sustained a serious injury, perhaps a concussion, ligament tear or fracture during their five years at the school. Among all children – including some who had given up the sport at the earliest opportunity – more than a third had been injured playing rugby.

Prof Pollock also appeared in a live TV discussion on Scotland Tonight which can be watched here.

You can follow the debate by reading Prof. Pollock's article on the Daily Mail website, and Tim Lewis's at the Observer.