All rugby players are permitted to wear tights or leggings when playing on synthetic turf. The World Rugby Executive Committee has decided to extend Law Four to all participants with immediate effect.
Critics of synthetic turf have been advocating the use of tights or leggings on synthetic turf for a long time, claiming it was the only way to protect players from abrasions on synthetic turf.
Law Four covers players’ clothing. Prior to the latest decision by the Executive Committee, only women were allowed to wear “cotton blend tights or leggings with single inside seam under their shorts and socks”. With rugby increasingly being played on synthetic turf, the latest decision will please the international rugby fraternity.
“With some players susceptible to abrasions on synthetic surfaces, the decision gives players the option to wear tights or leggings as a preventative measure, maximising access to the game,” World Rugby said.
“World Rugby will also work with unions and registered synthetic turf providers to ensure that rigorous best-practice maintenance programmes are observed that minimise the risk of abrasions, particularly in relation to brushing and watering especially in hot conditions.”
Exactly how much worse synthetic turf is in terms of abrasions is still up for discussion. The issue has been studied by many scientists and medics, including the dermatology department at Radboud Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Here they concluded that abrasions on synthetic turf differ from those on natural turf. At the time, researchers didn’t want to conclude that there was a higher chance on abrasions on synthetic turf compared to natural turf.
In 2019, World Rugby started a four-year scientific study regarding abrasions on synthetic turf. The study is done by Sports Labs.