The Blood Rule

Sport as a healthy activity. Over time, people have become more aware and concerned about the transmission of blood borne viruses (BBVs) through participation in sport. The risk of being infected by a blood-borne virus through enjoying sport is very low, but by following the blood rule, the risks are even lower. The risk is higher if you play high contact sports such as boxing, martial arts or the various football codes. However, it's not the sport; it's the blood contact we should be aware of.


The Blood rule is a rule used in many sports that states that an athlete that receives an open wound, is bleeding, or who has blood on them or their clothes, must immediately leave the playing area to receive medical attention.[1] Though they may be able to play again later, they cannot go back and play again until the wound is taken care of, bleeding has stopped, and all contaminated equipment has been replaced.[2] The main concern addressed by this rule is the spread of infectious diseases like Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis, and other diseases that can be spread through the contact of blood.

All sports, at both professional and amateur levels, should implement blood rules:

1. A player who is bleeding or has blood on their clothing must immediately leave the playing court or field and seek medical attention.
2. The bleeding must be stopped, the wound dressed and blood on the player's body or clothing cleaned off before they return to the game.
3. Play must cease until all visable blood is cleaned up.

Players and sporting clubs have the responsibility of playing their part in preventing the spread of infection through sport. It is recommended to be blood aware and take precautionary measures when blood is present i.e. play the blood rule.


  • Wear disposable gloves and use paper towels (or disposable cloths) to mop up the blood
  • Wash the area with soapy water
  • Seal paper towels and gloves in a plastic bag and place in a bin

If another person’s blood has come in contact with your open wound, eyes or nose (blood-to-blood contact), the following precautions are recommended:

• Thoroughly wash the area of contact gently with water
• Cover the wound with waterproof dressing