This year's Guinness Six Nations features Instrumented Mouthguard technology, with players across all six unions able to use custom-fitted mouthguards designed to deliver in-game alerts as an indication for off field HIA1 assessments. The first incident of the mouthguard being called upon for player welfare came during the first quarter of Scotland v France in Edinburgh, when George Turner's mouthguard alerted medical staff, who assessed the hooker before he returned to the field.
The new technology has been incorporated into the existing HIA protocol for all elite competitions since January of this year. No aspects of the HIA protocol are being removed or replaced, instead the introduction of Instrumented Mouthguards is an additional safeguard to improve player protection.
The introduction of the smart mouthguards at the elite level of the game is driven by the game wide commitment to prioritise player welfare, and with the Guinness Men’s Six Nations the first elite men’s competition to use the new technology, is leading the way for the benefit of the whole game and its players.
The Instrumented Mouthguards provide in-game alerts to the independent pitch side medical team. In the eventuality that a player experiences a head acceleration event the match day medical staff will receive an alert to be able to inform the Team Medics and Match Officials that a player needs to be removed for an off-field HIA1 assessment.
Commenting on the trial introduction of Instrumented Mouthguards to the Guinness Men’s Six Nations, Julie Paterson, Director of Rugby at Six Nations Rugby, said: “Six Nations Rugby, its Unions and Federations are focused on driving the game wide commitment to prioritise player welfare and innovate in this area, to ensure we are using the latest technology and enhancing our processes where relevant, to protect the players."
"The technology around Instrumented Mouthguards has been developed extensively over recent seasons through the work undertaken by World Rugby. The ability to expand the HIA process to incorporate this technology is testament to the player welfare commitment across the game.
"Their introduction into the Championship this year has been through collaboration with all six unions, leagues, clubs and the players. This highlights the positive steps being taken when rugby comes together with a shared objective to support the game and its players.”
Click here more information on World Rugby’s HIA Protocol.