A professor at Queen Mary University of London has warned that a government drive to boost rugby participation at English schools risks children suffering serious injuries on the playing field.

Professor Allyson Pollock believes that there are not enough safety checks and measures in place to support a school rugby drive.

Statistics suggest that for children, there is around a one in 10 chance of getting injured to the extent where they require at least seven days off the pitch. Serious injuries including brain and spinal injuries can also occur on the rugby pitch and can prove to be life changing or in the worst case, fatal.

According to the research, the UK has few safeguarding strategies in place to protect players when compared with countries such as New Zealand.

Imogen Wetton, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Manchester office, said: “Sport at school clearly provides health and social benefits to pupils, but when it comes to high contact sports, such as rugby, children who are inadequately trained or not properly supervised may suffer an injury.

“Children as young as 10 years old can become involved in contact rugby at school. They may come up against people of the same age who are physically bigger or stronger than them, which increases the risk of injury.

“Having represented people who have suffered a sports injury that was not their fault and many children who have fallen victim to serious injury, we know all too well the life-changing impact it can have. It is vital that anyone who is involved in contact sport is trained properly and advised on the techniques to avoid injury so that people can enjoy sport, without risking their health