The RFU, Premiership Rugby and World Rugby confirm that Prevent Biometrics has been selected as the instrumented mouthguard (iMG) provider for a study with Premiership Rugby, Allianz Premier 15s and England representative teams for the 2022-23 season.
A comprehensive procurement process took place to select the instrumented mouthguard provider for this study, which included a review of the validation work undertaken by the Rugby Football League in partnership with Leeds Beckett University in their pilot study for the TACKLE project.
This combined with consultation by subject experts both in the UK and abroad and the existing work World Rugby has carried out with Prevent Biometrics during its recent ORCHID study and with the Red Roses during last November’s Autumn Internationals, resulted in Prevent Biometrics being the selected provider.
The data gathered via the instrumented mouthguards during the season will add to that obtained during trials with Harlequins men, Bristol Bears women, Northampton Saints and the Red Roses to deepen understanding of the magnitude and frequency of head impacts in the elite game. The data will provide a quantitative measure of the nature of the impacts and using a range of modelling approaches, what happens to the brain in both training and match play settings.
Each participating player in participating teams will wear the mouthguards containing a data acquisition system that, in real-time, collects and wirelessly transmits count, load, location, direction, linear and rotational motion every time there is a collision. This will assist with making recommendations to further inform rugby’s injury-prevention strategies as the sport continues its research-led drive to protect players at all levels of the game.
Simon Kemp, RFU Medical Services Director said: “Data from the 22-23 iMG roll-out will deepen our understanding and knowledge of head impacts and head accelerations and ensure we make evidence-based decisions as we advance player welfare.
“The pilot studies were a very important first step but a wider rollout is a significant development in providing data at scale that will inform both club-based decisions about individual player head impact and contact load on a day-to-day basis in addition to enabling us to develop more informed league-wide guidance on appropriate contact training and match loads. Ultimately, we need to develop our understanding of the career head impact load for the individual elite player.”
Phil Winstanley, Rugby Director for Premiership Rugby said: “We are delighted to continue to work with the RFU, World Rugby, the RPA, and now with Prevent Biometrics, on this important initiative.
“We are now building on previous pilot studies using this technology and, with the support of the clubs and players and independent specialists we will enable the elite game to produce large-scale data to inform future player safety recommendations. This mouthguard technology will provide new and objective insights into the duration, frequency, and magnitude of head impacts during training and matches.
“Clubs will also be able to use the technology immediately in real-time to monitor and modify contact load in training, matches and across the season to support player welfare and to optimise performance.
“We would like to thank all participating clubs and their staff and players for their support of this hugely important initiative that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on player safety initiatives moving forwards.”
Dr Eanna Falvey, Chief Medical Officer, World Rugby said: “Advancing player welfare using the latest innovation and technology is a key pillar of World Rugby’s six-point strategy to ensure that our sport is the most progressive on player welfare. We are delighted to support clubs, medical staff and players in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Allianz Premier 15 and at international level with this initiative.
“Academic studies have shown Prevent mouthguards to be at the forefront of this technology and together with Premiership Rugby and the RFU we can use the data and learnings from next season to improve the welfare of players across the global game.”
Richard Bryan, Rugby Players Association Player Welfare Director said: “The introduction of instrumented mouthguards to the Gallagher Premiership, Allianz Premier 15s and England representative teams for the 2022-23 season is a significant development for the game and one that has the full support of the RPA. The research study was recently presented to the RPA Players’ Board and was well received. One of the RPA’s aims is to seek a reduction in players’ exposure to head impacts of any kind.
“The instrumented mouthguard programme will help by increasing understanding and informing decisions regarding player head impact and contact load on both an individual and collective basis, in particular, with regards to the future regulation and management of contact training limits.”
Prevent CEO Mike Shogren said: “We are thrilled to work with Premiership Rugby, RFU and World Rugby as they continue to expand their usage of head impact monitoring as a key input into rugby’s global leadership in player safety. Prevent’s system will continue to assure the highest standard of accuracy, usability and reliability to allow informed safety and performance management decisions. The work being done to discern major head impacts and overall player load will greatly further the understanding of the level of head impacts in rugby’s top levels.”