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Colour Blindness in Rugby

Colour blindness in rugby

Welcome

World Rugby’s strategic mission is a ‘global sport for all’. Whether you are a player, coach, match official, administrator, volunteer or fan. No matter whether you are young or young at heart. No matter your religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, ability or disability – everyone is welcome in rugby. We exist to ensure that rugby is accessible and inclusive for all. Underscoring that commitment, we recognise the challenges that people with colour blindness or colour vision deficiency (CVD) have participating and experiencing our sport. I too have CVD and I am proud of the steps that we have taken in partnership with Colour Blind Awareness to both educate and inform in this important area in the form of these guidelines. Whether you are at the community or elite levels of the game, this guidance is designed to help you ensure that colour blind people are welcomed, have an exceptional experience, enjoying all the huge lifelong benefits that rugby can offer. Together we can ensure that the game is as inclusive as possible for everyone.

Sir Bill Beaumont, Chairman, World Rugby

The relevance of colour blindness to rugby

"I remember playing at night-time when we played for Edinburgh and Scarlets would come up in their dark red. I remember a couple of times making a line line-break on a counter attack, running into what I thought was space between two of my own men and just getting totally smashed. Your focus is on the ball, you’re running and scanning the whole time.... [it’s] because there’s not that real clear division in our eyes, I suppose."
Chris Paterson, Scottish Rugby ambassador and specialist skills coach

Colour blindness is a very common but poorly understood condition which affects approximately 300 million people worldwide.  

Red/green types of colour blindness alone affect eight per cent of males (0.5 per cent of women) meaning there could be two-three colour blind players in every men’s squad of 32. Many people with colour vision impairments are not aware of their condition and for this reason they are unlikely to speak up or ask for help.  

As good colour vision is important for playing and watching rugby, it is vital that everyone involved in the game is aware of potential challenges for colour blind players, fans and others, whatever their role or status, and puts procedures in place to minimise problems. 

Colour confusion can cause issues for fans, players, coaches, referees, stadium/club employees and external stakeholders, for example emergency services personnel, because whenever colour is used to give information, colour blind people will face challenges in trying to understand it. 

The main implications of colour blindness for rugby are: 

  • Kit clashes – with other players/match officials/the colour of the pitch/crowds in the stands 
  • Equipment – training cones/bibs/classroom training
  • At grounds – with facilities/wayfinding/safety signage/types of lighting
  • Information – websites/purchasing tickets/buying merchandise
  • TV coverage – inaccessible graphics/‘invisible’ advertisements and logos
  • Workplace issues – understanding colour-coded spreadsheets/graphs and charts/presentations/technical equipment
  • External stakeholders (investors/sponsors/media organisations/emergency services) – making sense of information given in colour 

These pages (originally a document) have been structured to enable people to quickly find the sections most relevant to them and is divided into sections for those who watch rugby, those who participate in rugby and those who host and organise rugby.   

Some sections start with Top Tips to act as a checklist for future reference, while the explanatory text is supported with numerous images in both ‘normal’ vision and ‘colour blind’ simulations to ensure that the issues and challenges faced by colour blind people can be understood at a glance. 

All sections are interspersed with comments and testimonies from colour blind people, ranging from those working and playing at elite level, to youth and community players and fans who simply want to be able watch rugby at their local ground, or with friends and family on TV, on their devices or out and about. 

World Rugby is working towards adoption of the guideline insofar as possible and encourages its stakeholders to support these efforts in their own activities as far as possible.