‘Change in technology’ could allow for prosthetics in rugby


World Rugby has clarified its position on the use of prosthetics in rugby after its decision not to allow Brits prop JP Strydom to play with an artificial leg. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.

Strydom lost his right leg at the age of 16 after a drunk driver crashed into him, just a few hours after being selected for the Leopards’ Craven Week team.

He was told he would never play rugby again, but did get back onto the field thanks to a prosthetic leg that was specially developed for him.

Strydom played rugby until June this year, when a referee reported his prosthetic leg to the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, which had to seek permission from World Rugby (via SA Rugby) for it to be used.

World Rugby denied the request, referring to Regulation 12 and Law 4, which does not permit a player wearing a prosthesis to participate in rugby, for safety reasons.

Strydom insists his prosthetic leg is safe, taking the video below to show why.

‘Our regulations and laws pertaining to garments, equipment etc, is underpinned by a philosophy that any item should not have the potential to cause harm to either the wearing player or other players within a match environment,’ a World Rugby spokesman told RugbyRocks.com two weeks ago.

‘This is important and therefore the likes of padded headgear, padded clothing, goggles, etc have to attain certain performance standards.’

RugbyRocks.com this week asked World Rugby if there were any modifications Strydom could make to his prosthetic leg that would enable him to play again.

‘Currently, under World Rugby regulations, there is no ability to allow rigid material to be used, in the interests of player safety and welfare,’ the World Rugby spokesman said.

‘There would need to be a change in technology that would enable such equipment to be approved within the regulations, but World Rugby is, of course, open to any manufacturer or researcher with the ability to advance this area for future consideration.’

JP Strydom

JP Strydom runs out for Brits

The spokesman said there was currently no ‘performance standard’ that a prosthetic leg would have to reach in order for World Rugby to deem it acceptable for use in a rugby match as the technology has not existed.

‘The primary concern is that any item of clothing or equipment should not be able to do harm to either the wearer or any other player in contact with the item,’ he added.

When asked if World Rugby would consider sending someone to South Africa to watch Strydom play with his prosthetic leg, the spokesman said, ‘The first point of call would be through the domestic union’.

In Strydom’s case, that would be the Blue Bulls Rugby Union.