A Qualitative Exploration of Parents’ Perceptions of Risk in Youth Contact Rugby

Eric Anderson, Adam White, Jack Hardwicke

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to explore the understandings and perceptions of risk related to brain trauma amongst parents of children that play contact rugby. A qualitative approach was taken, using semi-structured interviews with 7 mothers and 27 fathers of children that participate in contact rugby. A thematic analysis of data suggests that parents used two primary cognitive strategies to process the risk they consented to with their children’s participation in rugby; (1) minimalizing rugby risk to be equivalent to less injurious sports; and (2) elevating physical and social advantages above what they think other sports are capable of providing. From the findings it is suggested that parents who permit their children to play contact rugby are both aware of the high risks of injury in the sport, but simultaneously utilize two cognitive distortion techniques to rectify the dissonance caused between their choice to have their children play, and the salient number of concussions they observe. These results suggest that it will take properly informed consent, inclusive of concussion rates compared to other sports, in order to reduce cognitive distortion and effectively communicate risks associated with participation in contact rugby.
Original languageEnglish
Article number510
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number12
Early online date14 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2022


  • concussion
  • rugby
  • cognition
  • parental attitudes
  • risk perception


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