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Headgear Specification

Headgear Performance Specification

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


The use of padded clothing and in particular headgear 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 headgear compliant with this specification are intended to protect against are cuts and abrasions.

The Headgear Performance Specification sets out general requirements for headgear relating to the ergonomics, construction, sizing and design of the equipment. Performance requirements relating to Impact Acceleration Attenuation and retention system strength and effectiveness are also provided, and the corresponding test methods are described. In addition, requirements for product marking and instructional literature are included.

Headgear compliant with this regulation, and thus with limited Impact Acceleration Attenuation properties, is not intended nor expected to protect against any form of mild traumatic brain injury or skull fractures. The additional requirements of this regulation are in place to enable these devices to be used in a way that does not pose additional risk to the wearer or other players coming into contact with them.

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.


Padding – that padding worn on the body and head.

Headgear – that worn on the head by players.

Zone of Coverage – the area of padding that is intended to provide coverage.

Retention System – that which is used to secure the headgear or garment to the body.

Chin Strap – a strap that passes under the wearer’s chin or lower jaw and is intended to retain the headgear on the head.

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.



Headgear should be designed and constructed to minimise discomfort for the wearer. All normal playing movements shall not be impeded by wearing the headgear.


Construction Materials

It is the manufacturer’s responsibility that all materials used in the construction of the headgear should not be significantly affected by ultra-violet radiation, water, dirt, perspiration, toiletries, household soaps and detergents. Products should conform to ISO 15487i and BS 3449ii. 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.


Headgear shall be so constructed that it is unlikely to cause any injury to the wearer or other players during play. There shall not be hard or sharp edges, seams, buckles or other items on the surface of the product that could harm the wearer or other players during normal use.


Zones of Coverage

The headgear must have zones of coverage that cover the crown, temple, forehead (sweatband area) and ear areas. The zones of coverage shall fulfil the requirements of the impact performance specification (Section 3.4.1) and have a maximum padding thickness of 10mm [1] plus an additional allowance of 1mm on each side for fabric. The typical dimensions of the zones of coverage are given in Table 1. Areas outside designated zones of coverage do not have to meet impact requirements but must be of soft foam or leather and be less than or equal to 5mm in thickness. Where this overall thickness consists of padded material covered by fabric, 5 mm is the maximum measured thickness for the combination of the uncompressed padding and the fabric. The fabric can contribute up to a maximum measured thickness of 1 mm on each side of the padding. All padding materials must have a density not greater than 45 kg/m3 [2].

[1] ±2mm tolerance

[2] ±15kg/m3 tolerance

Ear Aperture

The ear aperture of the headgear shall have a linear dimension (G) not less than 25mm and not more than 30mm. It may have a cross mesh or similar design characteristic but this must not significantly affect the hearing of the wearer. Where a cross mesh is used, the linear dimension of any ear apertures shall not exceed 30 mm.


Horizontal field: the headgear shall provide peripheral vision clearance of at least 105° to each side of the longitudinal vertical line (median plane) when the headgear is positioned in accordance with the Manufacturer’s Instructions (see Figure 2). Vertical field: the headgear shall provide peripheral vision clearance of 25° above the Apex plane when the headgear is positioned in accordance with the Manufacturer’s Instructions. Vision will not be hindered below the Apex plane (see Figure 3).


It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide for adequate ventilation in the headgear design.

Retention System

The retention system should be attached so that the headgear remains in its normal position during play. The chin strap that secures the headgear should be affixed to both sides of the headgear and pass under the lower jaw in close proximity to the jaw and the neck. The minimum width of the chin strap shall be 15 mm. Buckles or similar hard fixings may not be used. Rubber buttons or Velcro® type fixing materials are acceptable.

Performance Requirements

Impact Acceleration Attenuation

When tested in accordance with the procedures specified in Section 4.3, the peak acceleration of impacts delivered to test locations shall not be less than 200g.

Retention System Strength

When tested in accordance with Section 4.4, the strap should stay intact and closed when loaded with a 7 kg mass but should fail when strained dynamically by an additional mass of 10 kg allowed to fall through 300mm.

Retention System Effectiveness

When tested in accordance with the procedures specified in Section 4.5 the headgear may shift but not roll off the wearer’s head when initially subject to a static load of 3 kg followed by an additional dynamic load exerted by a 4 kg load falling through 175mm.

Test Methods and Procedures


Three (3) test specimens of each size shall be submitted by Manufacturers, complete with ‘Information supplied by the Manufacturers’ (see section 9). Two specimens shall be used for Impact Acceleration Attenuation testing at the various conditions and one for retention system testing.

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 headgear is mounted on the test headform so that the headform can be oriented in different positions and dropped onto a flat impact surface. The acceleration and time history of the impact are recorded using a tri-axial accelerometer and appropriate instrumentation. Peak acceleration and time duration data obtained using the methods specified in Section 4.3.4 are used to determine the impact characteristics of the headgear.


The apparatus for the Impact Acceleration Attenuation test shall consist of the following (also see Figure 4):

  • Headforms – All headforms used will be to EN 960, be of metal and have a low resonance frequency (but not lower than 3kHz).
  • Anvil – the anvil shall consist of a flat steel surface of diameter 130mm +/-3mm and not have a resonance frequency liable to affect The centre of mass of the drop head form shall lie over the centre of the anvil.
  • Guide Assembly – a headform shall be attached to a free fall or rail guided drop assembly carriage by an adjustable mounting or other means that will allow impacts to be delivered at any prescribed point on the headgear.
  • Accelerometer – a set of three accelerometers in a three axis array are mounted at or close to the centre of gravity of the test headform when the headform is mounted in the free fall carriage
  • Impact Recording and Displaying Instrumentation – the impact shall be recorded and displayed on a storage oscilloscope with specified deflection factors, sweep speed per division and bandwidth for each of the accelerometers and be capable of resolving the gmax of the headform. Equivalent instrumentation capable of recording, displaying and storing the impact signal from the accelerometers shall meet this requirement.

Reference Testing

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


The headgear is matched for best fit to the testform according to the manufacturers recommendations. Each headgear is impacted where additional padding has been applied within the specified zones of coverage (crown, forehead and temple/sweatband areas). An energy level of 13.8J will be used for impact. This is equivalent to the ‘J’ headform falling through 300mm. The height of fall will be adjusted for each headform mass.

The impact zones will be:

  • Once, where crown padding is
  • Twice where forehead padding is
  • Twice where temple padding is


Maximum acceleration

The maximum peak acceleration is calculated by measuring the perpendicular distance to the trace baseline from the midpoint of the resultant trace at maximum excursion and multiplying by the sensitivity factor. The sensitivity factor is defined as g per division deflection of the trace.

Duration of Impulse

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

Retention System Testing – Strength


The chin strap of the headgear is subjected to two loads. The first a static load of 7 kg to which the strap will not open or break. The second is an additional load which falls dynamically to apply a sudden downward load causing the strap to open or break.


A suitable set-up is shown in Figure 6. The headgear is positioned on a test headform (to EN 960 and without hair).

A support is provided for the headform. A vertical guide assembly with anvil is attached below the headgear with two round pins of diameter 12mm and 76mm apart (between centres). The total mass of the guide assembly with anvil is 7 kg +/- 0.02 kg. A drop weight of 10 kg +/- 0.02 kg can be moved up the guide assembly and dropped onto the anvil in a substantially frictionless fall through a distance of 300 mm +/- 5 mm.


The headgear is mounted on the test headform and the retention system is adjusted so the headgear is securely positioned. The guide assembly is attached to the chin strap of the headgear. The mass falling through 300mm to the guide assembly anvil exerts a dynamic force under which the strap fails. If the strap fails under the static load, it will be deemed ‘failed’. If the strap fails when additionally subjected to the dynamic load it will be deemed ‘passed’. If the strap does not fail under both static and dynamic load it will be deemed ‘failed’.

Retention System Testing – Effectiveness


The headgear positioned on a headform is subjected to a tangential force at the rear edge of the headgear in a forward direction. The resulting shock places a rotational load on the headgear. The headgear may be shifted but must not roll off.


A typical apparatus is shown in Figure 7. The headform (to EN 960 without hair) is mounted on a stand in the upright position. To this is fitted the headgear according to manufacturers instructions. A vertical guide assembly weighing 3 kg +/- 0.02 kg in total is attached via a cable or strapping* to a hook which attaches to the rear of the headgear. A drop weight of 4 kg +/- 0.02 kg can be moved up the guide assembly and dropped onto the anvil in a substantially frictionless fall through a distance of 175 mm +/- 5 mm.

*Note: The cable or strapping shall be of a material having an elongation of no more than 5mm per 300mm when loaded with a 22 kg weight in the free hanging position.


The headgear is mounted on the headform and the retention system adjusted so as to obtain the best fit. The hook is attached to the rear of the headgear to which is attached the guide assembly weighing 3 kg. The drop weight of 4 kg falls through 175mm +/- 5mm before it hits the anvil. The headgear may be shifted but must not roll off the headform. The retention system is readjusted and the test is repeated one more time. If the headgear rolls off, the test will be deemed a failure.

Product Marking

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

  • Name or trademark of the
  • Size or size range for proper
  • Instructions on
  • Notification (once approval has been secured) that the clothing meets the minimum requirements of the World Rugby
  • CE mark where garment is sold into the EC, it is the responsibility of the manufacture to comply with the PPE directive.

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, etc. or any other factors affecting the integrity of the equipment
  • Notification (once approval has been secured) that the clothing meets the minimum requirements of the World Rugby
  • 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. BS 3449 - Method for resistance of fabrics to water absorption


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.