Scottish Rugby has announced a ‘first-of-its-kind’ collaboration with mouthguard manufacturer HITIQ Technology which will see the pair conduct a season-long study into concussion in the sport.
The study will gather data in an attempt to support an improved understanding of concussion and contact in rugby, with Scottish Rugby hailing the collaboration as being the time a northern hemisphere Tier 1 programme will deploy mouthguard technology across its international and professional teams.
In Rugby League, the RFL recently partnered with Leeds Beckett University to conduct a head injury study using mouthguard technology.
Starting in September 2021, Scottish Rugby players in a trial programme will wear HITIQ’s flagship Nexus A9 head impact sensor technology. The trial will encompass players from Scotland Men’s National Team, Scotland Women, Scotland 7s. and Edinburgh Rugby, with players able to opt in to the study.
The Nexus A9 Smart Instrumented Mouthguard and associated Nexus Portal Software delivers a platform for measuring and managing head impact exposures of players during training and games, according to HITIQ, while Scottish Rugby will use the technology to ‘measure and compare all aspects of game and training head impact loads’, in a bid to review and enhance player welfare standards.
The mouthguard itself is custom fit and embedded with sensors which ‘quantify’ head impacts. Scottish Rugby says the project will also be supported by its Official Dental Provider SmilePlus, based in Edinburgh.
“We are delighted to partner with HITIQ, who have class-leading technology,” said Dr James Robson, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Rugby.
“In this trial we aim to improve our understanding of impact loads on our players in both the training and match environments.
“We would hope this will further inform the debate around player load and welfare management going forwards.”
Mike Vegar, CEO, HITIQ, added: “Expanding our technology footprint into a significant global target market such as Rugby Union is critical to HITIQ’s overall strategy. Being the first head impact sensor to partner with a national rugby union team is very exciting for all our stakeholders and this agreement with Scottish Rugby builds on other rugby union agreements entered into domestically and previously in the UK.
“In aligning ourselves to the pedigree of Scotland Rugby we see this as a powerful step in establishing HITIQ as the concussion technology leader within the sport. Our interests are completely aligned with Scottish Rugby and we look forward to forming a strong relationship by assisting them to improve their player welfare standards.”
The collaboration will span the entirety of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series, 2022 Six Nations and United Rugby Championship competition as well as the international sevens circuit.