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Effectiveness of headgear in a pilot study of under 15 rugby union football
  1. A S McIntosh1,
  2. P McCrory2
  1. 1School of Safety Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2052
  2. 2Centre for Sports Medicine Research and Brain Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3052
  1. Correspondence to: Dr McIntosh a.mcintosh{at}


Objective—To determine whether protective headgear reduced the incidence of concussion in a pilot study of under 15 rugby union.

Methods—Sixteen under 15 rugby union teams were recruited from three interschool competitions in metropolitan Sydney and the adjacent country region. A prospective study was undertaken over a single competitive season. The study had two arms: a headgear arm and a control arm. Headgear wearing rates and injury data were reported to the investigators and verified using spot checks.

Results—A total of 294 players participated in the study. There were 1179 player exposures with headgear and 357 without headgear. In the study time frame, there were nine incidences of concussion; seven of the players involved wore headgear and two did not. There was no significant difference between concussion rates between the two study arms.

Conclusions—Although there is some controversy about the desirability of wearing protective headgear in football, this pilot study strongly suggests that current headgear does not provide significant protection against concussion in rugby union at a junior level.

  • rugby union
  • headgear
  • helmets
  • concussion
  • adolescents

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