Rugby and rights of the child

18 December 2020

To: Juliet Harris
Director, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)

Dear Juliet

The purposes of this email are to introduce myself and to ask for your advice and perhaps collaboration.

I am Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, and live in Edinburgh. I have been working with other academics for many years on injuries from playing rugby, especially concussion. My concerns were prompted by the experiences of a colleague who was paralysed and my teenage son who suffered a fractured cheekbone and concussion. I have written about this recently in The Sunday Times and in my book Tackling Rugby.

I am particularly concerned about rugby injuries in schools – its commonly compulsory nature, the tackle, and the lack of surveillance injury data. I have also with others recently written to the four Chief Medical Officers in the UK about this. These issues engage the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I have discussed this with Peter Roderick with whom I work (and with whom I understand you have spoken, and with Koldo Casla as well), and he has suggested that the incorporation of the CRC into domestic law in Scotland will bear on these issues, and that it might be a good idea for me to be in touch with campaigners and others in Scotland to work through the implications of incorporation for the rights of children in relation to rugby, and the duties it might impose on schools and others.

I would very much value your advice on how I might best be able to take this forward.

Many thanks

Allyson Pollock
Professor of Public Health