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Friday Feb 23, 2024

All Black secondrow offers his perspective on new rugby technology

All Blacks and Crusaders secondrow Scott Barrett has offered his views on Rugby’s new smart mouth guard implementation in the 2024 Super Rugby season.

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Implementing a new strategy in their continued drive to increase player safety, World Rugby have invested heavily into the smart mouthguard; releasing a statement in October 2023, World Rugby offered a fascinating insight into the technology.

“World Rugby will advance the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) by introducing in-game alerts from smart mouthguard technology to show if a player has experienced a high level of acceleration which could lead to an injury. The new protocol and technology will be debuted in elite women’s competition WXV from October, and will be integrated into the Head Injury Assessment from January 2024.

“World Rugby has been at the forefront of using new technology to manage head injury as part of its ongoing six-point plan to become the most progressive sport in the world on player welfare. That technology has now progressed to become an integral part of the off-field assessment for players, further enhancing the HIA process, which currently has a 90 per cent success rate in diagnosing concussion.

“World Rugby is investing an initial €2 million to support unions, competitions and clubs with adopting the new smart mouthguard technology supplied by Prevent Biometrics. The smart mouthguards will work in real-time to send alerts of high forces to the independent matchday doctor. This will, for the first time, enable players who have experienced a high acceleration event but have not shown symptoms or been seen by broadcast cameras to be taken off and assessed.

“Elite rugby players will be required to wear smart mouthguards to be able to use the in game HIA1 test. The mouthguards will be required in training as well as matches, enabling coaches to better tailor drills, tackle skills and training load for each individual player, and best support their performance and welfare.”

For the full World Rugby statement click here.

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Speaking following his side’s 33 – 29 loss to the Chiefs in the opening round of the 2024 Super Rugby season, Barrett said, “Honestly, I think it’s a step too far for a player.” Before continuing on to say, “When you’re getting dragged around and you’re looking around ‘what actually happened?’ I think it’s yeah.”

Clearly making the point that these were his own views, Barrett said, “Personally I think obviously yes we want player welfare, I think that’s paramount.

“But I think if you’re influencing the game when key players are going off and they don’t know what for, I think that can be frustrating for a player.

“So I think yeah, there needs to be a happy medium somewhere within it.” He concluded.

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