For those who have had the unfortunate experience of playing on synthetic rugby pitches, this may come as a relief, as World Rugby has approved the use of leggings across all levels of the game.
Synthetic 3G pitches (often labelled as plastic pitches) are essentially astro-turf like surfaces which are implemented by some clubs and unions as a means to mitigate against game postponements due to adverse weather.
While these pitches serve a use given the capricious nature of weather in the northern hemisphere, a lot of players who have actually had to train and play on them have voiced their opposition to plastic pitches due to the number of injuries sustained as a result of the surface.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 12, 2021
Reaction to the approval from World Rugby has been mixed, with opposition coming from those who believe that the game has been further sanitised, while those in favour of increased player welfare have defended the measure.
Leicester players Freddie Burns and Joe Marler have come out this week calling for plastic pitches to be outlawed in the game, in order to prevent skin burns to players, highlighted on Twitter by the fly-half.
Don’t think I’ll be wearing “tights” anytime soon but players have enough injury concern without throwing 3rd degree burns in there. That ain’t my knee but it’s a pic from another prem rugby player. I’d rather they just banned plastic pitches pic.twitter.com/5pgXnLCKxc
— Freddie Burns (@FreddieBurns) October 12, 2021
Leggings have been used in various guises by players in training but until this week, full use of the garment in matches at all levels has not been allowed. A lot of the leggings used in the past have been similar to base layer, and to improve circulation and recovery after training sessions.
This move will take some pressure off of those complaints about artificial surfaces, although with injuries like that of Johan Goosen recently, various safety aspects will always be debated due to the nature of the harder surface that as well as causing skin abrasions, is believed to have no real ‘give’, such as a natural grass pitch.