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On-Field Safety: How To Decide if Headgear is For You

October 21, 2019 Footy 4 min read BACK

It’s essential that everyone feels safe while playing the sport they love, and this is particularly important for rugby players as rugby is one of the most physical sports a person can play. Safety in rugby isn’t about compromising the perceived toughness or quality of the game, but rather implementing techniques and wearing protective gear designed to keep players safe. From protective vests and shorts, to mouthguards and headgear, players can be suitably protected. As each item protects different parts of the body, each comes with its own set of benefits and considerations, including headgear.

Why do rugby players use headgear 

Recent research has suggested that headgear not only doesn’t prevent concussions, but it may also give players a false sense of security and therefore increase their risk of concussion. So, why do rugby players use headgear? The answer is for protection from cuts and abrasions, and also to provide ear protection. And it’s for these reasons that 71% of players are willing to try headgear. 

Understanding the challenges associated with wearing headgear 

Of the players who choose to play without headgear, many cite the same reasons for the decision – perceived impairment or they don’t think headgear is irrelevant to their position on the field. There are also some other challenges associated with wearing headgear, including concussions and dealing with a false sense of security from wearing protective gear.

1. Concussions

Many people believe that concussions are caused by a blow to the head. It would then be assumed that headgear would absorb any blows to the head and eliminate instances of concussion. However, headgear can’t prevent concussions because concussions aren’t caused by a blow to the head. Rather, concussions are a result of neural whiplash that causes the entire head to accelerate and either bruises or damages the brain.

2. False sense of security

It has recently been suggested that players wear protective headgear because it gives them the confidence to not worry about getting injured. As a result, players sometimes display reckless tackling behaviours that may increase the risk of injuries like concussions. Consequently, players need to be aware that the main aim of headgear isn’t to prevent concussions.

Importance of training and tackling strategies

The challenges that come with wearing headgear can be eliminated through learning the right playing and tackling technique. When players learn the correct head placement, and to use their shoulders and drive their legs when tackling, the risk of a tackle resulting in a concussion is reduced.

If players are taught the right technique, headgear won’t give them a false sense of security, as players will tackle with the correct technique and avoid situations where concussions could occur. With the right technique, players won’t need to rely on headgear for something that it doesn’t do – prevent concussions – but rather, for what it does do – protect from abrasions and lacerations.

Benefits of rugby headgear 

According to World Rugby, headgear that complies with world rugby standards can prevent soft tissue injuries to the head and ears. This means that headgear can effectively reduce the risk of lacerations and abrasions to a player’s head, as well as the risk of sustaining cauliflower ear. 

Another benefit of wearing rugby headgear is a less obvious one, but an important one nonetheless. Wearing headgear removes the distraction of hair, meaning that hair won’t impede a player’s vision or be used to drag a player to the ground.

Top tips for buying headgear 

Recent research has found that 60% of players who don’t wear headgear have tried wearing it in the past. Reasons for not continuing playing with headgear include an inability to hear, distraction, too hot or too uncomfortable. While the number of players trying headgear only to give it away may sound alarm bells for those considering headgear, don’t stress. Wearing headgear is a personal choice, and so every player who plans to purchase headgear should do some research.

Consider what the surroundings look like when you wear the headgear and check to see that you have full visibility. You should also test the fit – while players don’t want headgear that’s too tight, it has to be tight enough that it doesn’t constantly move around. 

Players should also determine what kind of coverage they need. For rugby, it’s good to have headgear that provides ear coverage to prevent cauliflower ear. It’s also good to determine the amount of support or padding that the headgear provides. 

Finally, headgear can vary in price, so it’s important to remember that when it comes to protecting your head, you want a product that offers the most comfortable support for your own needs.

Is headgear right for you?

When deciding whether or not to invest in headgear, the decision is up to the player. However, when deciding, it’s important to note that headgear doesn’t prevent concussions. In fact, the players can do that by employing a sound tackling technique on the field. Headgear, however, is the right choice for players looking to protect their head and ears from cuts, abrasions and cauliflower ear.

If headgear is the right choice for you, Canterbury has a range of headgear options on offer. You can be sure that with Canterbury’s rugby technology always exploring new designs and fits for the modern rugby player, we have the right headgear for you.




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