Protective headgear in rugby union

Sports Med. 1998 May;25(5):333-7. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199825050-00005.


This article interprets the studies performed on the use of headgear in sport which relate to rugby. The design and testing of helmets and their effective use for protection in sport in general appears to be well documented. This is not the case for the use of protective headgear in rugby. Nevertheless, some conclusions and recommendations are warranted. Protection from the range of impacts that can arise through participation in contact sports does not seem to be attainable by using protective helmets or protective rugby headgear. However, the use of headgear is recommended for protection against lacerations and abrasions and to provide a limited protection from injury caused by impact. Referees should discourage the use of protective headgear, to manipulate an opponent by using the rules to eliminate such behaviour. Coaches, athletes and administrators must be committed to the practice of safe performance skills, for example, by not using the head as an implement and not targeting the headgear of the opposing player. Further research is required to determine the effectiveness of protective headgear in reducing the risk of injury in rugby, whether the use of headgear places a player at a greater risk of injury through altered behaviour and the reasons why players currently choose not to wear headgear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Football* / injuries
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans