Rugby is a contact sport similar to American football, but with far less protective equipment. The clothing worn by rugby players is usually lightweight, and is designed to permit a wide range of motion. Some leagues have restrictions on the type of rugby gear that may be worn, so check your league's rules before buying any equipment.
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A rugby scrum cap is a soft, padded helmet that protects the head and ears. Scrum caps are limited to 1cm of padding, so they do not provide the same type of protection as a football helmet. Scrum caps are mostly used to protect the player from friction, scrapes and cuts. They can also prevent the common "cauliflower ear" that results from repeated rugby scrums.
There are different types of rugby boots, depending on the kind of ground you will be playing on. Soft-ground rugby boots have six to eight studs that screw into the bottom of the boot. Longer studs can be attached to give more traction in wet conditions. Firm-ground rugby boots have more studs, but they are shorter and made of plastic or rubber.
Rugby shoulder pads absorb some of the impact from tackling or hitting the ground. Like the scrum cap, the padding can only be 1cm thick, so proper tackling technique is still important in preventing injury. There are short-sleeved pads that only protect the shoulder area, or full shoulder pads that also protect the biceps, ribs and chest.
The mouth guard is the most important piece of rugby equipment. It will prevent your teeth from being knocked out by a tackle or contact with the ground. Wearing a mouth guard will also keep you from biting your tongue when hit. Mouth guards reduce the amount of concussions a player may suffer by preventing the teeth from hitting together when a blow to the chin is received. Be sure your mouthpiece is correctly fitted to your mouth. A mouthpiece that is too large or too small will be uncomfortable to wear, and may interfere with the player's ability to breathe.
Performance rugby shorts are made of lightweight material that allows air to flow through. This prevents perspiration from accumulating and weighing down the shorts. Rugby shorts also stretch more than traditional cotton shorts, making it easy for players to run freely without having the shorts bind up around the thigh. Most of today's high-performance rugby shorts are made from polyester or a blend of cotton and polyester.
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