MORE than three-quarters of boys in Winchester are compelled to play rugby, despite high risk of injury, a new study shows.

New research has shown boys in state-funded secondary schools feel pressured to play the sport within the physical education curriculum.

Contact rugby has a high risk of injury and concussion, yet new research led by the University of Winchester, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Newcastle has shown boys in state-funded secondary schools are compelled to play.

A Freedom of Information Act request to schools found that contact rugby is a compulsory activity in over three-quarters of state-funded secondary schools for boys.

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The study - led by Dr John Batten from the university of Winchester, Dr Adam J White from Oxford Brookes university, and Professor Allyson Pollock from Newcastle university - also found that 67 per cent of subject leaders believed contact rugby had the highest risk of harm in the physical education curriculum.

Dr White, senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes university and executive director at head injury charity, Concussion Legacy Foundation, said: "We know that full contact rugby carries a high risk of injury, and particularly concussion, that has a potential for long-term health problems. There are many non-contact versions of rugby that provide the same benefits for children but without the same harms."

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