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Compulsory collisions and corporate interests in school rugby: challenging distortions in the framing of childhood injury
  1. Joe Piggin1,
  2. John Batten2,
  3. Keith Parry3,
  4. Eric Anderson4,
  5. Adam J White5
  1. 1 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK
  2. 2 School of Sport, Health and Community, Winchester University, Winchester, UK
  3. 3 Department of Sport and Event Management, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK
  4. 4 School of Sport, Health and Community, University of Winchester, Winchester, Hampshire, UK
  5. 5 Sport, Health Science and Social Work, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joe Piggin, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, Leicestershire, UK; j.j.piggin{at}


This article examines how ‘framing’ is used to resist a proposal to remove rugby tackling from UK schools. It focuses on rugby tackling for UK school children, which is often a compulsory part of many schools’ curricula. Specifically, we explore the importance of framing in how the problem is described in various academic publications, how ideas about risk are articulated and how advocates themselves are represented. We show how the corporate interests of rugby governing bodies can become entangled with distortions about injury prevention. These distortions (or framing practices) include omitting arguments, conflating arguments, changing the argument, misrepresenting advocacy positions and skewing advocate identities. Next, the article demonstrates how a combination of recent advocacy, political interventions, research and cultural shifts appears to be changing perceptions about the risks associated with rugby tackling for children in school settings. In conclusion, we argue that while framing can be a useful strategy for policy advocates, there is value in paying attention to how framing is used by different stakeholder groups.

  • Interventions
  • Advocacy
  • Policy
  • Recreation / Sports
  • Child
  • School

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was first published online. Row 2, table 3 has been updated.

  • Contributors This article was conceived by all authors via discussions and meetings. JP produced an early draft version which was critiqued, developed and refined by all other authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests The authors were signatories of an open letter which recommended the removal of tackling and harmful aspects from school rugby in the UK. JB, KP and JP are members of the Acquired Brain Injury Research Network. AJW and KP are affiliated with the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK. AJW has previously received funding from the European Union Erasmus programme. He is co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK and is co-director of Concussion Legacy Project. He is currently employed as the Head of Brain Health at the Professional Footballers’ Association.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.