By its nature, rugby is a very demanding sport where injuries are common to many parts of the body. Taping, bracing and padding are therefore frequently worn by those who have suffered from a previous injury, or who are looking to prevent a future one occurring!
Knee supports and braces are no exception and can regularly be seen on both amateur and professional players. However, when choosing a knee brace for rugby the player must consider the rules of the sport and whether the support they choose will be permitted for play. Due to the contact element of the game, supports and braces with any exposed, solid parts are not permitted. According to the IRB rules:
- A player may wear supports made of elasticated or compressible materials which must be washable.
- A player must not wear any items containing buckles, clips, rings, hinges, zippers, screws, bolts or rigid material or projection not otherwise permitted under this Law.
These international rules essentially mean that any solid parts on a support are not permitted due to the potential of injuring an opponent on contact. This obviously rules out any hinged braces, however if this much support is required, the question of the players suitability to play should be addressed.
Bearing this in mind, those requiring a good level of support may be permitted to wear certain stabilised supports which have lightweight and flexible metal springs embedded into the sides of the support. However it should be considered that external buckles which many have to facilitate tightening the straps are also illegal. A good example of a stabilised knee brace for rugby which would be permitted is the LP709a. The lightweight and flexible metal springs are embedded in the sides and there are no other solid parts. The LP X-Tremus is also permitted. This kind of support would be suitable for those with a previous injury to any of the knee ligaments or cartilage.
For those with a less substantial injury, or just looking for some mild protection, a simple neoprene or elasticated knee support would be suitable. These tend to have an open part at the front for the knee cap to make them more comfortable at the extremes of motion. Those with an open knee may also have padding which surrounds the opening. This is suitable for most injuries and is particularly beneficial for those who have patella problems. Some supports are available which completely cover the knee cap – ideal for those looking for padding or protection of this area.