Protection for you and your family is essential

Louise Dearman jumps into the air, fists clenched and a yelp of delight joins a chorus of enthusiastic applause from those around her.

Her son, James, has just scored a try in the Gwent U8 rugby festival, held in Usk, South Wales. James is a ruggedly built eight-year-old with all the energy and rumbustious enthusiasm you’d expect for a boy of his age. That he’s crossing the try line for his second try in as many minutes shouldn’t come as a surprise given his background.  

“I’m originally from South Africa, and I moved to Wales 20 years ago," says Louise. "James was born here to sports-mad parents in a rugby-mad environment so I suppose it’s only natural that he took to rugby.”

James has been playing tag rugby for Usk RFC Juniors for a couple of years, but Louise isn’t overly concerned about the safety of her son as he grows older and gets exposed to the contact part of the game.

“At the moment, it’s just tag rugby but it does get a bit physical at times. There can be tears but it’s usually over within a few seconds.

“James just loves the game. It’s so social and fun and the coaching here is fantastic. The coaches are all trained and qualified and the boys really enjoy every element.”

Last week Usk U8s had their first tackle training session, learning the instinctive technique now that should equip them for many years of safe and effective tackling. Next year, as an under nine, James will experience tackling in matches for the first time. But other physical aspects of the game, including rucking, lineouts and mauling won’t follow until subsequent age grades.

“He can’t wait for next year,” says Louise. “James loves the rough and tumble. I’d consider getting him a head guard but only if he wants one. I’ll certainly get a gum shield.

“The rugby authorities are far better on safety than they used to be. They’re very hot on concussion now and the laws changed recently to make tackling even safer. I feel reassured that he’s in good hands.”

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