20 December 2020

Bristol Bears become first women’s rugby team to wear gumshields that measure impact of collisions

Premier 15s club Bristol Bears have become the first women’s side to wear gumshields that measure the impact of collisions during training.

Men’s Gallagher Premiership clubs Harlequins, Gloucester and Leicester Tigers already use the technology that sees a microchip fitted into the gumshield to see how severe collisions are.

Bears Women’s head of medical Kate Tyler told The Telegraph: “It is important that if we use them to their full effect we use for both matches and training. Matches are just a small part of these girls’ weekly load and exposure to collisions. The idea is that they wear it throughout the week and that helps us collate an individual profile for each player.  

“It is the first piece of technology that can pick up this kind of data. There is nothing else that we have come across that can record it both in real time and looking back at it. It is a pioneering piece of technology that can help us both from a player welfare and performance point of view. We are excited to be part of the first step of using this in women’s rugby.”

It is understood some clubs have been resistant to introducing the technology because it’s expensive. The cost stands at £1,000 per player, per year.

Bears are hoping to use the gumshields to inform their decision-making and the data collected will be used by their medical and coaching staff.

This comes after concussion has been brought back into the spotlight in rugby recently. Former male players, including World Cup winner Steve Thompson, are suing rugby governing bodies as they have been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

They say sustaining head injuries while playing the sport has caused their illness and they want change in rugby so it doesn’t happen to current and future players.

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