On May 2nd of 2019, the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) shocked Nova Scotians, and many Canadians alike, when the board decided to cut all rugby programs in high schools across the province. Stephen Gallant, the executive director of NSSAF stated that, “this was not a knee jerk reaction” and cancellation was justified due to the large number of concussions athletes had reported spanning five years prior. Despite the fact that numerous recent scientific publications have found no correlation between rugby and concussions. Following the sudden cancellation of the sport, coaches, players, and doctors spoke out on the lack of validity regarding the insurance data used to justify cancellation. The decision to cancel rugby, a sport that promotes inclusion and all body sizes is shocking. In a 2017 survey of 10,678 girls in the United States it was found that “the strongest positive impacts of athletic participation are observed when girls are in high school“, including high levels of confidence, higher grade point averages and increased career aspirations.
“You can have a chance for injury if you ride to school on a school bus, buses get into accidents”
– Larry Peyton, rugby dad
The ban brings into question the integrity of the NSSAF. Was this a safety or economic driven decision? On September 19th of 2019, rugby had officially been reinstated as a high school sport, to the relief of many. Gallant was quoted as saying, “we’ve addressed the issues the board, principals and schools had regarding high school rugby, and so we are very optimistic that we’ve made some positive changes”. At the time of reinstatement a change.org petition has amassed 35,000 online signatures. All in all, despite a short stint as a cancelled sport, the rugby and sport community came together in support of Canadian youth.