Rugby-Mouthguard tech a huge step forward for player safety, says ex-Scotland scrum half Lawson

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 2:20 AM

(Reuters) – Former Scotland scrum half Rory Lawson said smart mouthguards were “a huge step forward” in making rugby safer after hooker George Turner became the first player in the Six Nations to have a Head Injury Assessment following an alert from the technology.

Rugby union has been grappling with the long-term health consequences of repeated concussions in recent years.

Players in this year’s Six Nations are using instrumented mouthguards to help medics detect incidents that require off-field HIA’s as part of efforts to improve player welfare.

At Murrayfield on Saturday, an alert was triggered when Scotland’s Turner was tackled by France’s Charles Ollivon. The player passed his HIA and returned to the field 10 minutes later.

“We want to drive the narrative of the sport being safe and the welfare of players being right at the forefront of it and this is a big step forward in that regard,” Lawson told BBC Scotland rugby podcast.

“The alternative option we’ve had for the last little while is the independent match medical officer, who is watching the match live and also has a delayed broadcast so they can see something has happened and watch it back, but that’s still down to judgement of the naked eye.

“It could be something that happens at the bottom of a ruck or something that looks fairly inconspicuous, but actually turns out to be (more serious).”

A rash of law suits have been filed by former players who say they suffered brain injuries from repeated concussions sustained while playing rugby.

(Reporting by Shifa Jahan in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)