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Body Padding Performance Specification

Body Padding Performance Specification

The use of padded clothing has been prevalent in the sport of rugby since the mid 1990’s.


The use of padded clothing has been prevalent in the sport of rugby since the mid 1990’s. World Rugby, at this time, looked to create a performance specification to ensure that use of these devices was conducted in a manner which did not materially affect the way the game was played. This specification for headgear, shoulder padding and breast padding looked to encourage players to protect themselves rather than providing equipment which would provide additional protection from potential injuries. The only injuries that body padding compliant with this specification are intended to protect against are cuts and abrasions.

This Body Padding Performance Specification sets out general requirements for body padding relating to the ergonomics, construction, sizing and design of the equipment. Performance requirements relating to impact attenuation are also provided, and the corresponding test methods are described. In addition, requirements for product marking and instructional literature are included.

World Rugby believe that putting the duty of care on the player to perform within their physical limits is a more effective injury management method than allowing for the use of clothing that has high impact acceleration attenuation properties.

This Performance Specification should be considered in unison with both Law 4 of World Rugby’s Laws of the Game and World Rugby Regulation 12 and the relevant sections therein.


Body Padding – that padding worn on the body.

Shoulder Padding – that body padding (the whole device) worn on the shoulder area.

Breast Padding – that body padding worn on the breast and axillary tail area. Shoulder Pad – that padding material that covers an individual shoulder area Zone of Coverage – the area of padding that is intended to provide coverage. g – the acceleration due to gravity. g (standard) = 9.80665 m/s2.

gmax – the maximum multiple of g encountered during impact.

The World Rugby Process to Achieve Device Approval


It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that any product being sold or supplied for use in rugby has been previously tested in the laboratory by a recognized World Rugby Test House to ensure it meets the requirements set out in this specification.

The manufacturer should consult with a Test House to ensure that the correct components are submitted to enable the test to be carried out in accordance with this specification.

The minimum sizes and numbers of samples provided for testing must be in compliance with the performance specification.

Once all laboratory testing has been completed an application to use the World Rugby Approved Label must be sought from World Rugby and all devices must display the approved logo at all times to be authorized for use.

Test House Requirements

Information on the qualifying criteria for and applications to become a recognised World Rugby Test House should be made to the World Rugby Technical Services Department.

Testing Requirements


Body padding shall be designed and constructed so that all normal playing movements can be carried out without hindrance or discomfort.

Breast padding is specific to female players and should be designed and constructed to minimise discomfort for the wearer. All normal playing movements shall not be impeded by wearing breast padding.


Construction Materials

It is the manufacturer’s responsibility that all materials used in the construction of the body padding should not be significantly affected by ultra-violet radiation, water, dirt, perspiration, toiletries, household soaps and detergents. Products should conform to ISO 15487i and ISO 22958ii. All materials coming into contact with the wearer’s body will not be of the type known to cause skin disorders and shall not cause abrasion of either the wearer or other players.

Padding Materials

Padding materials must be homogeneous (i.e. padding facing towards the wearer must be the same texture, hardness and density as that facing the opponent). Foam padding of sandwich construction is not allowed.

Semi Rigid Breast Cups

Where cups are part of the garment, it is important that these must be of a semi-rigid material and that this is limited to the front area about the nipple, as shown in Figure 2. The cups shall not exceed a perpendicular 4mm thickness from the front surface at any point.


All edges shall be smooth and rounded. There shall be no rigid projections on the inside or outside of the product that could harm the wearer or other players during normal use.


Zones of Coverage

Shoulder padding shall have a maximum zone of coverage about the sternoclavicular (SC-), acromioclavicular (AC-) and glenohumeral (GH-) joints.

Shoulder pads will cover the shoulder and collar bone only and extend from the neck to a maximum of 20 mm down the upper arm. An allowance for the shoulder pad to cover the SC joint is made to a maximum depth of 60mm and at the back of the neck to a maximum depth of 70 mm. The shoulder pad will have a maximum thickness of 10mm [1] plus an additional allowance of 1 mm on each side for fabric. Figure 1 illustrates a garment providing this coverage. The shoulder pad shall have a maximum zone dimension ‘A’ given in Table 2. The padding shall fulfill the impact performance specification (Section 6.4). All padding materials must have a density not greater than 45 kg/m3 [2]. Areas outside the designated zones of coverage do not have to meet impact requirements but must comply with Regulation 12, Section 4.

[1] +2 mm tolerance band

[2] +15 kg/m3 tolerance band

For breast padding, the extent of coverage shall include at least all the area shown in Figure 2 below. Breast padding shall have an area which covers the soft tissue and the axillary tail. Outline dimensions of the area of coverage shall be based on the under bust girth measurement with brassiere cup size or, bust girth measurement. The typical dimensions of the area of coverage are given in Table 1.

Breast Padding with integral shoulder padding

Breast Padding with integral shoulder padding is allowed. The shoulder sections will be subject to the same constraints of design and testing as shoulder padding alone. Allowance is made for shoulder padding to meet breast padding at the front of the garment.

Retention System

Body padding may be secured to the body by a tight fitting undergarment where the protectors are sewn in or may be inserted into compartments in the undergarment or jersey. Harness type retention systems can be used. The undergarment should be capable of being attached to the body using adhesive tape if necessary.


Body paddings will be sized according to wearer’s chest girth. Manufacturers may allocate their products to nominal sizes each of which covers a range of actual sizes (see Tables 2 & 3).

Performance Requirements

Impact Acceleration Attenuation

When tested in accordance with the procedures specified in Section 7.3, the peak acceleration of impacts delivered to test locations shall not be less than 150g.

Test Methods and Procedures


Two (2) test specimens of one size (largest size manufactured) and one test specimen of all other sizes shall be submitted by manufacturers, complete with Product marking (Section 8) and Instructional literature (Section 9). All specimens shall be used for impact acceleration attenuation testing at ambient conditions (Section 7.2.ii) and the second specimen of the largest size at high temperature (Section 7.2.ii) also.

Conditioning of Specimens

Prior to impact testing, one specimen will be exposed to ambient conditions and another to high temperature conditions as follows:

  1. Ambient Temperature - one sample is conditioned by exposing it to a temperature of 20°C +/- 2°C and relative humidity condition of rh60% +/- 5% for a period of between 4 and 24
  2. High Temperature - the second is conditioned by exposing it to a temperature of 50°C +/-2°C and relative humidity condition of rh60% +/- 5% for a period of between 4 and 24

All testing shall be conducted within 5 minutes of removal from the conditioning environment. 

Impact Acceleration Attenuation Testing


The shoulder pad (as intended to be worn by a player) is mounted on a cylindrical test anvil. A mass with flat striking surface is dropped onto it. The peak acceleration and time history of the impact are recorded using an accelerometer and appropriate instrumentation. Peak acceleration and time duration data obtained using the methods specified in Section 7.3.4 are used to determine the impact characteristics of the shoulder pads.


The apparatus for the impact attenuation test shall consist of the following (also see Figure 4):

  1. Drop Assembly - a dropping mass shall be attached to a free fall or rail guided drop assembly The mass shall be 5 kg +/- 0.02 kg. The dropping mass shall have a flat striking face of diameter 130mm +/- 2mm.
  2. Anvil - the anvil shall consist of a horizontal steel cylinder with a diameter of 115mm +/- 2mm and shall not have a resonance frequency liable to affect measurements. The centre of mass of the drop mass shall lie over the centre of the
  3. Accelerometer - an accelerometer is mounted at or close to the centre of gravity of the drop
  4. Impact Recording and Displaying Instrumentation – The impact shall be recorded using a digital oscilloscope to obtain the voltage output of the accelerometer. Equivalent instrumentation capable of recording, displaying and storing the impact signal from the accelerometer shall meet this

Reference Testing

An MEP (modular elastomer programmer) reference surface with a convex face will be used, measuring 150mm diameter, 25mm thick at the centre and mounted on a matching steel base. The drop weight will be dropped onto the MEP impact surface from a distance 300 +/- 5 mm. Resolved gmax values recorded by the accelerometer on three successive drops shall lie within +/- 10g of the mean.


Each shoulder pad is impacted at two locations providing the size of padding allows a distance of not less than 30 mm apart and at least 20 mm from the periphery of the padding. Where the size of shoulder pad does not allow this than a single location for each padding is permitted.

It is important that the maximum length of impact area is equivalent to the diameter of the drop mass striking the surface. The impacting energy will be 14.7J (which is equivalent to a 5 kg drop mass falling through 300mm). The time interval between each impact should be 60[3] seconds.

[3] ±30 second tolerance


Maximum acceleration

The maximum peak acceleration is calculated by multiplying the peak voltage value obtained with the sensitivity factor provided by the accelerometer manufacturer. The sensitivity factor is defined in g per volt.

Duration of Impulse

Determine the duration of the pulse by measuring the total width of the trace along the 150g line in milliseconds.

Product Marking

Padding equipment shall be permanently marked with the following information by the manufacturer:

  • Name or trademark of the mnufacturer
  • Size or size range for proper
  • Instructions on
  • Notification (once approval has been secured) that the clothing meets the minimum requirements of World Rugby Regulation
  • Any additional requirements set out in the territory where the device is for

Instructional Literature

Padding equipment shall be accompanied by at least the following information:

  • Instructions that describe proper fit and
  • Instructions to replace after
  • Instructions on
  • Warning concerning improper use of cleaning agents, or any other factors affecting the integrity of the equipment
  • Notification (once approval has been secured) that the clothing meets the minimum requirements of World Rugby Regulation
  • Size or size range for proper


  1. ISO 15487 - Textiles. Method for assessing appearance of apparel and other textile end products after domestic washing and drying
  2. ISO 22958 - Textiles -- Water resistance -- Rain tests: exposure to a horizontal water spray


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this document any party who makes use of any part of this document in the manufacture of rugby headgear (a "User") does so at its own risk and shall indemnify World Rugby their officers, directors, servants, consultants and agents against all claims, proceedings, actions, damages, costs, expenses and any other liabilities for loss or damage to any property, or injury or death to any person that may be made against or incurred by the World Rugby arising out of or in connection with such User's use of this document.

Compliance with the requirements detailed in this document by a User does not of itself confer on that User immunity from legal obligations. Compliance with the requirements detailed in this document by a User constitutes acceptance of the terms of this disclaimer by that User.

World Rugby reserves the right to amend, update or delete sections of this manual at any time as deemed necessary. This World Rugby manual may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of World Rugby.