What are smart mouthguards and how are they being used in the Six Nations?
Round two of the Six Nations featured a historic moment as Scotland hooker George Turner became the first player in the championship’s history to be removed after his smart mouthguard detected a collision which could have caused a concussion.
Turner was removed from the pitch during the first half of Scotland’s defeat to France for a head injury assessment after his mouthguard alerted medical staff of a significant head acceleration event after a tackle made on Charles Ollivon. The front rower passed his assessment and returned to the field.
The mouthguards, also known as gumshields, have been incorporated into the existing HIA protocols as another tool designed to support the drive towards better player welfare with a particular focus on brain injuries.
Sensors within the mouthguard measure head impacts and accelerations/decelerations. Current regulations state that for men’s players, an impact above 70g and 4,000 radians per second squared will recommend a HIA. For players in the women’s game, the first threshold is lower – 55g.
The Six Nations is the highest-profile competition in which the technology has been used after it was introduced at WXV in the autumn. A more widespread implementation is considered likely.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said after the Turner incident that caution must be taken to ensure the mouthguards are used correctly.
Scotland hooker George Turner was temporarily replaced against France
Townsend said: “I don’t think there was any more that came out of it but we just have to watch what we’re doing here with bringing technology in that might have an influence for not the correct reasons, let’s say.”
The mouthguards are supplied by Prevent, with World Rugby announcing an investment of £1.7m in