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Director of Elite Sales & Strategy - UK & Europe
The curtain has come down on another year of Rugby Union’s autumn internationals. For Scotland, a memorable win versus Australia would, for most fans, provide the highlight. However, behind the scenes, a major step forward for Scottish Rugby took place, which is set to change their game forever.
This season’s games marked the first time Scottish international players took to the Murrayfield turf wearing the Nexus A9 instrumented mouthguard. The mouthguards are the most advanced of their kind in the market. They contain three triaxial accelerometers, one gyroscope and an impact classifier that collect up to 14,500 data points per second. The Nexus A9 instrumented mouthguard is just one part of a system, designed by HITIQ, to offer a complete service in the measurement, management, and mitigation of head injuries amongst players.
Onboarding of the new system took place prior to and during the autumn international period. By the final game of the series vs Japan four players were using the mouthguards. Ensuring players are wearing their custom-fit mouthguards is only part of the story. Scottish Rugby also saw members of its medical and performance support team, including Andy Boyd (Head of Athletic Development): Dr James Robson, (Chief Medical Officer); Richard Wood, (Medical Services Manager); and Jack Walsh, (Sport Scientist) taken through a fairly intensive two-day training schedule. This training was designed to showcase the broader benefits and usability of the system. Importantly, this includes a thorough demonstration and familiarisation with the Nexus iPad Application and Software Portal.
The Nexus Software Portal is the centre of the system, where impact data is uploaded, analysed and reports can be generated. It contains data from over 30,000 video verified validated head impacts and continues to grow. This means that when starting to build impact profiles for the Scottish players, the team already has significant reference data to use as a comparison. As well as player profiles, the Nexus Software Portal also allows for reporting and analysis regarding different playing positions, teams, and even different training drills or segments of a game This level of insight helps the coaches and support staff manage the head impacts that players sustain during training and games. As more data is gathered and more credible player profiles are built, coaches can start to tailor sessions to suit the head impact status of players in order to keep them fresh or support rehabilitation/reintegration into training and matchday squads.
The addition of the Nexus A9 instrumented mouthguard to matchday equipment and the wider adoption of the HITIQ system is part of a growing shift in sport towards player welfare. As collision sports such as rugby become even more physical, the emphasis to help protect players is increasing. Scotland Rugby’s adoption is a fantastic reflection of the best-in-class hardware and software that HITIQ brings to the table.
Now the autumn internationals are over, the focus turns back to the club game before the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup. Data will continue to be gained in support of the Scottish players as they represent their clubs. The hope for all involved is that this leads to better training and match preparation for the players. HITIQ is at the vanguard of head impact player welfare measurement and management. The partnership between Scottish Rugby and HITIQ offers the players the best possible support both now and as the insight and understanding develop, in the future.