Under World Rugby laws and regulations, padded headgear is currently permitted on the basis that it does not cause harm to the wearer or an opponent. Presently, no headgear is approved on the basis of concussion-prevention as until now the research does not support such outcomes.
However, recognising the importance of evolving technologies, materials and manufacturing and a game-wide appetite to further injury-prevention, the trial has been devised to allow the manufacturer to gather robust scientific evidence from players wearing the new headgear devices during matches, subject to meeting strict criteria.
The criteria including detailed evaluation by a specialist World Rugby group, robust safety and independent test house assessment and shared trial research. Manufacturers who meet this criteria will be permitted to participate in the trial.
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Eanna Falvey said: “Player Welfare is World Rugby's number one priority, therefore we have developed and are implementing a trial process to enable the assessment of headgear devices which have been designed to achieve specific, quantifiable medical purposes.
“In order to maximise player safety, we have set the entry criteria for this trial at a very high standard and we have hired external consultants to examine the research and development data already generated by the manufactures as part of the research and development process.
“The trial is one pillar of a holistic evidence-based approach to concussion education, management and prevention which includes the package of closed law trials currently operational in competitions around the world and the high tackle sanction framework, which is designed to change player behaviour in approaching the tackle from high-risk upright tackles to lower risk tackles where the tackler is bent at the waist, resulting in a 30 per cent decrease in concussions at Rugby World Cup.”