If you have ever turned on a rugby game you may notice that a lot of the players wear tape on their thighs and other parts of their body. It is not like other sports where this is done for aesthetics, there is a purpose to the tape.
Why do rugby players tape their thighs? Rugby players tape their thighs so that they are easier to lift in the lineout. It is why you usually only see forwards taping their thighs. You do also sometimes see players taping their thighs if they are carrying a minor injury.
The lineout is a very important part of the game. While one team gets the throw, it is still a contest. The ball has to go down the middle so getting your jumper up as high as possible gives them the best chance of coming down with the ball.
It can be quite difficult to lift a player as high as they need to, with players’ legs often not giving the lifters much to work with. This is why the lineout jumpers will usually wear tape on their thighs. It gives the lifters a much better grip in the lineout, allowing the lifter to get the jumper higher in the air.
When a player does not have tape on their thighs, it makes it easier for the lifter’s hands to slip, particularly when either it has been raining or the player is sweaty. Lifting without the tape is quite difficult, but there is more than just tape on a player’s thigh to aid the lifter.
Underneath the tape, there will often be some foam, with the tape over the top of the middle of the foam. This creates a ledge which gives the lifter something to hold onto while they are lifting the player.
The tape itself may seem like it is designed purely as a competitive advantage, but it actually helps the safety of the player. If the lifter does not have a good grip on the jumper, they could slip and fall awkwardly. When you are falling from a height like that it could do some serious damage, so having a better grip on the jumper makes the lineout much safer.
What is a rugby lifting block?
One of the other things which may be underneath the tape on a player’s thigh is a lifting block. This is a small soft block which provides a much more effective way to lift a jumper at lineout time. The lineout block not only allows the lifters to get the jumper higher but just makes the lineout generally much safer.
The block goes underneath the leg gaping and gives the lifter extra grip. You will usually see the block being placed just above the knee and then tape goes over it to keep it in place. The tape itself needs to be comfortable for the player as it is on them for the entire game, they cannot put it on just for lineouts.
Do Rugby players tape their thighs for injury reasons?
While the majority of tape on thighs is for lifting in the lineout, you will sometimes see taping over the thigh that is designed to either prevent or alleviate injuries. Injuries to the quad or hamstring are incredibly painful and have a very long recovery time due to how big the muscles are.
As these muscles are used so much in rugby, you will see these muscle strain quite a lot. The tightness of the muscle can be painful and prevent a player from performing. This is why you will see players tape their thighs.
Tape on the thigh can help to support the muscles if the player is carrying an injury from a previous game. There is not necessarily a huge amount of evidence that the tape helps an injury like this, but it Is still one of the reasons why we see rugby players having tape on their thighs.
Why do rugby players shave their legs?
One of the stranger parts of a rugby game you may notice is that a lot of the players shave their legs. There are a few different reasons why players shave their legs.
1. To make it less painful when tape is removed
2. To aid with the healing of cuts
3. Prevent Irrigation during massages
4. For aesthetics
The first is that it helps with the tape that players often have on their legs. Rugby players will often have tape on their legs for a variety of reasons. The tape is an adhesive so it sticks to the player’s leg. When it is being taken off, it can be very painful if it is also stuck to hair on the leg, which is why players will shave their legs. It prevents the leg hair from being torn off the leg when the tape is removed.
If you see players who have only shaved specific patches of their leg, it may be to help with the healing of an injury. Rugby is a very physical sport and players can often get cuts on their legs from hard impacts or from the studs on a boot. At times, these cuts may require stitches. The hair on your leg can get in the way of stitches and so if you see a player who has shaved their legs, It could be to aid with stitches.
Some players will also have been instructed to shave their legs by the team’s physio. Massages are a huge part of recovery for any professional sport, with rugby no exception. Massages are important to the recovery of rugby players. But leg hair can often become irritated during a massage.
So players will shave their leg hair off to prevent this irritation during massages.
The last reason why players like to shave their legs is nothing really that helps the player’s ability. It is commonly known that muscles look more aesthetic when they do not have hair on them. It is why you see the majority of bodybuilders shave their arms and legs. Rugby players are no different, with some deciding to shave their legs purely for the aesthetics.