The latest Scottish lockdown with its nationwide ban on contact sports for the over 18s is effectively extending the ban on competitive rugby introduced by Scottish Rugby’s Board in November.

The difference this time is the complete closure of schools until at least February – more like April or May, I would suggest – and that closure added to the existing ban is causing real fears that we in Scotland are witnessing the loss of a generation of rugby players.

Anyone involved in community rugby clubs across Scotland will tell you that the important years for recruiting and retaining players are the late teens and early twenties. All those kids who happily took part in mini, youth and school rugby get to make the transition to adult rugby at 18, but that’s also the age when many youngsters are lost to clubs either through going into tertiary education or because they have discovered other activities – and I don’t just mean sex and drugs and rock n’roll.

The SRU has tried its best in recent years to encourage clubs to find and retain players. As the SRU states: “It is the responsibility of all adults in the game to create an environment that is player-centred, development-driven and competition-supported. This applies to coaches, parents, teachers, volunteers and supporters.”

The Union has even changed the laws to make that task easier. As stated on the SRU website: “During the 2018-19 season, a trial set of Age Grade Law Variations (AGLVs) were introduced to support a more enjoyable and inclusive game for players in mini rugby and the boys youth game. Further to this, a bespoke set of AGLVs for the Girls Game were introduced in 2019-20, following the same principles of developing an enjoyable and inclusive game.”

Anecdotal evidence is that the AGLVs, some of them revised, were working. Clubs were enjoying using them, but then along came coronavirus and smashed all that progress to smithereens. Add that to the suspension of contact sports including training, and I doubt if there is a club coach in the country who is not worried about the immediate future of their players and possibly their club itself.

The most frightening thing I have read recently was an article published by Clifton Hall School headmaster Rod Grant on the private school’s Facebook page. While I disagree with his conclusion that closing schools is wrong, nevertheless attention should be paid to his personal account.

He wrote: "I’m not a conspiracy theorist; I’m not some radical on the fringes of a fringe. I’m just a teacher and this is what I see:

"In the last three months, in my school and in schools like it, I am witnessing mental health issues unlike anything I’ve seen in my career. This is not me trying to be dramatic or to overplay what lockdown actually does to children

"I am seeing children being diagnosed with clinical depression, increasing rates of self-harm (even in Scotland, where we already had the highest rate of self-harm in 15-year-old girls anywhere in the world, bar one), suicidal ideation and, something I haven’t seen for at least 20 years, a resurgence of eating disorders.

"Add to this, those students who are displaying worrying levels of stress and anxiety; the same students that describe online learning as stress inducing.

"Anyone that has been involved in a Zoom meeting knows how stressful it can be and yet the great solution to our educational recovery is online learning. Well, I’m an educator and I think, at best, it’s a horribly poor substitute for in-school learning.

"Right throughout this pandemic, the needs of our children seem to be at the bottom of every Government’s priority list. The cynic in me might suggest that it is because they can’t vote. Fortunately, I’m not cynical. To me, it’s actually just as worrying though to suggest that kids don’t really matter that much if they are not dying."

Strong words and, yes, over the top, but Grant’s point is that there is not enough support for children, especially teenagers, at this time. Most teachers and paediatricians would agree, and the lack of support will lead to long-term problems with mental and physical health.

That goes for young rugby players of the age of 18 or over. If you are suddenly unable to play sport, what do you do? I know some clubs have devised innovative ways of keeping young players interested, but where is the national guidance, where is the national support?

It’s all too easy to say that young men and women will stay involved in rugby if they really want to, but would it not make more sense to have some sort of system, some kind of national way, to ensure that we do not lose this generation?

It’s too important an issue to be left to the powers-that-be, so that’s why I am asking anyone in the club game who has devised a support or coaching system specifically for, say, 17- to 22-year-olds to let me know at and I’ll pass on any examples of best practice.