Young children’s bodies are not designed for the impact they are taking in rugby matches – and players as young as nine are regularly hospitalised with broken bones, according to leading surgeon, Mr Maurice Neligan. (Source: Irish Independent)

Orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Maurice Neligan who joined Aut Even Hospital in 2014 and is currently the chief Orthopaedic surgeon at the Beacon Hospital, has said that children’s joints are not fully formed and injuries sustained at a young age could lead to serious problems in adulthood.

The comments come ahead of a conference, at which Mr Neligan will speak, which aims to bring parents, coaches and young rugby players together to discuss ways of bringing the games forward for the health and safety of children. The Generation X event takes place at the Aviva Stadium on August 27, with Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt also speaking.

Below is an excerpt from the Irish Independent article published on May 11th. It is also available to read online here: http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/childrens-bodies-cant-cope-with-rugby-collisions-surgeon-warns-34703846.html

He said rugby is a lot more “confrontational than it was 20 or 30 years ago”, even at younger ages.

“I’m not sure if their bodies or joints are designed for that type of impact,” Mr Neligan said.

“Your joints aren’t fully formed and it could be a real problem for the younger player as they get older, having sustained injuries at a younger age.

“I see a lot of injuries in knees and shoulders and we’re seeing them at 9, 10, 11 years old – where these athletes aren’t even skeletally mature – and it poses a real problem to fix them and to get them back into sport and into life ahead,” he added.

The surgeon told the Irish Independent that it’s important to assess the best way to avoid the high impact injuries that are having a dangerous effect on players.

As a former rugby player himself, he suggested several different changes that could have a positive effect on younger players if introduced to the sport.

“I think a couple of things have been suggested, such as having the younger players play in weight categories instead of age categories,” he said.

“I think specific coaching around the tackle and recycling of the ball, and maybe looking at ways players aren’t seeking to collide but seeking to evade, like they were when I was playing.

“It would also improve the visual spectacle, but there needs to be some work from the top down especially in the under age groups,” he added.