‘Smart mouth guard’ to protect rugby players against head injuries


Rugby authorities want to implement the use of smart mouthguards to help protect players against head injuries, World Rugby said on Monday.

World Rugby will use the “smart mouth guard technology” to make independent field-side doctors aware of possible concussions.

The data provided will then be used by the doctors when a player is assessed for head injuries to determine whether or not a player who is suspected of having suffered a concussion can return to the field of play.

The alerts sent to the medics through the mouthguards during play will show if a player has “experienced a high level of acceleration” that could lead to an injury.

“The latest scientific research and expert opinion tells us one thing: Reduce the impact that players experience on their heads at all levels of the game,” said World Rugby’s medical chief, dr. Eanna Falvey, said.

“Advances in smart mouthguard technology mean that elite players will be better looked after than ever before.”

World Rugby said it is investing €2m in the technology, which will be used for the first time in the upcoming WXV elite women’s rugby tournament in New Zealand, which starts later this month.

Elite players will be required to wear smart mouth guards during practice as well as matches.

The governing body also recommends the use of the mouthguard at all levels of the game worldwide and increases the return-to-play protocols to three weeks.

A group of more than 200 former rugby players, mostly professionals, have lodged a claim against World Rugby and the governing bodies of England and Wales.

They allege that the governing bodies failed to take reasonable steps to protect players from possible head injuries caused by repetitive impacts.

Steve Thompson, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, is one of the former players who brought the case.

Thompson has previously spoken publicly about ailments he developed after his rugby career.