Rugby V MMA- part 2 – can both sports learn anything form each other regarding player/fighter protection

Rugby V MMA – head protection and breathing


Boxing has got rid of the head gear in amateur boxing bringing it in line with professional boxing. Head protection is not worn at all in MMA. Boxing have done this because there was research done to prove that boxers were more likely to get concussion and brain injury by wearing head protection than not wearing it.

The reason was due to the increased diameter the head guard brings as well as it increased the weight of the head. Because of this the brain moved more when wearing head gear that without wearing head gear when the same impact forces were applied. That’s my understanding of it anyway. Hopefully I have explained it in a way that makes sense. I am open to debate on it

So why did they not ban the head gear in amateur women’s boxing and kids boxing?

Perception, I believe.

It just looks safer to see people wearing head gear in boxing than not. Like any sport, boxing wants to attract as many kids, women and men to it’s sport. Head gear makes things look safer so parents will be more inclined to let their sons and daughters compete.

But, if the researched I mentioned above has proven head gear is more dangerous than no head gear that does imply that the health and safety of the kids/women competing is not boxing’s main concern. That is another massive can of worms and maybe for another discussion. Again, I am open to correction on this.

So, my ultimate point would be that maybe rugby should do similar research to boxing and see in fact is rugby head gear actually preventing injury or making things worse?

The other reason head gear is worn in boxing is to prevent cuts. That’s what it does best. That is what rugby head gear does best.

  • Most MMA fighters never wear head gear in training because it is not allowed in the cage so it’s artificial if you wear it in training. The rare exception would be coming close to a fight and not to risk getting cut in training a fighter may wear the head gear to prevent this

Breathing is another thing taught a lot in MMA, boxing and all fighting sports that is not taught in rugby. In MMA and all striking sports you are taught to inhale and then exhale when striking. This same principle can be used very effectively in scrummaging. Breath in on the bind call of the scrum and exhale on the set/engagement call. BANG.

This is something I coach at scrum time. It is not something that is widely known and it should be used more.

I will follow up and add to this topic in the near future.

Thank you

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