Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Now the fun police want to ban tackling in rugby for under 18 year olds. Enough is enough. The Friday Rant is back!

“A group of 70 doctors and health experts have called for a ban on tackling in school rugby games in a letter to the UK government.” Jesus h christ alive, what the hell is going on? And I do speak with some experience here from having to give up playing rugby when I was 17 due to head injuries. Would I change a thing about any of the sport that I was lucky enough to have played at school? Nope. I loved it, and I simply got unlucky with injury. Sport is a vital part of a child’s upbringing if you ask me, rugby is a hugely physical game, and tackling is part and parcel of playing rugby. How the frigging hell can you even dream up trying to ban tackling in school rugby? Are we going to end up with secret games of school age rugby being played where lookouts have to be posted to watch for the fun police doing their pathetic best to ban yet another thing in life that has an element of risk attached to it?

Life is for living, and doing fun stuff often involves an element of risk. Don’t tell me you haven’t ever had any scary moments in your fishing, and if you haven’t, then I would suggest either that you are a damn sight more sensible than me, or you perhaps aren’t tramping around a wild coastline and fishing right at the glorious edge of where the land meets the sea. If there is one thing that having cancer has done for me is ram home even more that you’ve just got to get on with it. Sure, a kid can get hurt playing rugby, but then they could also get hurt doing any number of things. It’s called life. Stuff happens. May the fun police sod off and crawl back to their miserable little lives where nothing ever happens because they’ve drained all the risk and therefore fun out of everything.

I have two girls aged 11 and 9 and from the moment they could walk we have encouraged them to get on with living life. I didn’t used to pick them up when they fell over and they soon learnt that sitting there and crying wasn’t going to get them anywhere with me. They quickly worked out that the odd tumble didn’t actually hurt and they were going to have a lot more fun if they picked themselves up and got on with things. I love my girls. I would lay down my life for my girls, but I will not bring them up where we wrap them in cotton wool and suffocate them via some misguided and modern desire to eliminate all possible risk. It’s unrealistic, it doesn’t prepare them for life, and it sure as hell doesn’t make for a fun childhood. Believe me, I could go off on one like you would not believe on the subject of modern parenting.

Surely a big point to playing rugby is the whole thriving as a team thing under pressure, and the physical nature of tackling other players is part and parcel of it. Putting your body on the line and testing your mettle. You can get injured playing any sport, indeed a footballer could trip over a blade of grass and end up with a nasty little grass stain down their expensive shiny top. Nobody wants kids to get hurt, but there is a risk it’s going to happen, and that to me is a part of playing a physical sport. Rugby’s on the fun police’s agenda now, but what will it be next? No taking kids fishing close to the water in case they fall in? No kids playing cricket with a ball because it might hurt if you catch it? We might live in an increasingly nanny like state, but I want nothing to do with all that crap, and neither do my girls. Get out there, get covered in mud, get some frigging germs on you, play rough sports, push yourself, pick yourself up again, and get on with living life. We get one chance at all this and we owe it to our kids not to let the fun police take over.