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St Senan’s takes lead on underage rugby safety


ST Senan’s Rugby Club in Shannon are the first in Ireland to make headgear mandatory at underage level.

They have entered into a collaboration with Galway based N-Pro, a world leader in the production of head guards, and it is estimated that wearing the products can reduce impacts to the head significantly.

With such high levels of physicality in rugby, there has been major concern in recent years about the impact of hits to the head on players at all levels.

Club President Dave Lee said that St Senan’s felt it was important to be proactive about dealing with a common concern. “We are going on feedback from parents, there has been a lot of discussion and concern about concussion and injuries lately, and we felt we had to do something to counteract that worry. We made contact with N-Pro, about maybe doing a collaboration and they jumped at the chance.”

He said that the N-Pro product is superior to anything else on the market, and at St Senan’s all players from under six to under 16 will wear them.

“I met parents from every age group, and there was literally no negative feedback, everyone was thrilled to do it. We are absorbing the cost, there’s no output for parents. The average headgear from N-Pro would cost €140, it’s a big cost outlay, but it’s worth it hopefully. They are way better than anything else on the market at the minute. It made sense if we were doing it, to do it right.”

He said that at the moment only 20-30% of underage rugby players wear the headgear, but he feels young players won’t struggle to adjust, and that the protection will eventually be mandatory. “Once they get used to wearing them, it’ll be like when the hurling helmets came in. I’d say that down the line it’ll be made compulsory in the next few years, but we’re going to be the first ones to do it.”

All over the world adoption of the headgear has been relatively slow, and Dave is glad that St Senan’s are at the forefront. “Japan is the only country that does it across underage rugby. One or two of the big rugby schools here have brought it in for their first years, but no one has made the leap like we are doing.A small club being the first to do it is great.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.