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Keeping Our Small Blacks Safe

Small Blacks Rugby is all about making the game as safe and enjoyable for all participants therefore taking responsibility is everybody’s task.

  • It is advisable to have at least one qualified First Aid person with all teams.
  • Your local St Johns will have course dates for a variety of First Aid qualifications.
  • All team players, management and parents should be aware of where the team or club’s telephone, First Aid Kit, ice and stretcher are situated.
  • It is important that all players’ contact details are available at all times, in case of an emergency.
  • Clubs are responsible for ensuring that all team managers and coaches are aware of the procedures surrounding Serious Injury Reports for NZ Rugby and injury reports for their own Union.


  • Mouthguards are compulsory in rugby. They help to reduce injuries to the teeth, lips, mouth and tongue, and help to reduce jaw fractures.
  • Since mouthguards became compulsory in 1997 there has been a 47% reduction in rugby related dental injury claims to ACC. Over half of all dental injuries happen at training. In 2003, the law was tightened to allow referees to enforce wearing of the mouthguards and consequently there have been further reductions.
  • Coaches must ensure players wear mouthguards at trainings, especially in activities involving collision or body contact.
    • Remember it is compulsory that players wear mouthguards during games.
    • Check your players have mouthguards — make the big call if they don’t — no mouthguard, no play.
    • A mouthguard needs to be replaced every season to ensure it provides the best protection.


Headgear must be fitted properly and securely to prevent serious cuts to the scalp and ears. Remember this is no evidence that headgear protects against concussion.


NZ Rugby strongly advises against Small Blacks players losing weight in order to make weight restricted teams. The use by children of weight loss techniques, including, but not limited to, saunas, fluid restriction and/ or crash dieting, in order to make teams with weight restrictions should be actively discouraged. These techniques can lead to dehydration and undernourishment in the short term, thereby impairing mental and physical performance. In the long term these techniques may interfere with normal growth and development and lead to serious health consequences, including the development of eating disorders and organ damage.

Any weight loss programme undertaken by a child for health reasons should be done in full consultation with a healthcare professional.