Pick school rugby players by weight not age, warns doctor
Youth rugby could be made safer if players were selected on weight rather than age, according to a top paediatrician.
Dr Alf Nicholson from Temple Street Hospital in Dublin said there also must be new rules on tackles and rucks.
Concussion has been part of a major debate in rugby since high-profile injuries to stars such as Ireland's Johnny Sexton and Wales winger George North.
Dr Nicholson said the best international advice is if there are any concerns regarding concussion, the player should be immediately removed from play and should not return if at youth or school level.
He wrote in the 'Irish Medical Journal' that it would be better to pick players for schools and youth rugby according to their weight instead of their age.
In every match there is likely one injury per team severe enough for a player to leave the pitch, and at least one attendance for suspected concussion.
He added that those on the sideline should be trained to recognise potentially serious injuries.
He said: "Strength and conditioning training, higher impact collisions, and high intensity games create a very exciting spectacle, but do place added burdens and responsibilities on medical personnel on the sideline," he added.
Dr Nicholson added: "If you are the nominated doctor on the sideline, you should anticipate you will be called into action. Often, no doctor is in attendance . . . a referee, a member of the coaching staff, a physiotherapist, parent or fellow player should ensure the player is removed from play."