Smart Mouthguards: World Rugby Announces Interim Changes

In a press release dated March 8, 2024, World Rugby announced that certain interim changes were being made to the Instrumented Mouthguard (iMG) process.

The smart mouthguard technology was integrated into the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) w.e.f. from January 2024.[1] Such smart mouthguards work in real-time to send alerts of high forces to independent matchday doctors.

These interim changes, recommended by World Rugby’s Concussion Working Group, were considered necessary owing to certain technical issues with the alert speed. The press release dated March 8, 2024, highlights that the issue is with signal strength in some stadia and not the operation of the mouthguards themselves.

While players will continue to wear the iMGs, they will not be mandated to leave the field for an HIA in case an alert is sent by their mouthguards. Instead, they will be checked by an on-field doctor. If any concerns are raised, the players are expected to leave the field for an HIA.

In situations where clearance has been provided to players, they will be subject to a full HIA assessment, either at half-time or full-time. This depends on when the alert takes place. The interim changes also envisage post-match assessments for players whose mouthguards set off alerts.

Additionally, it is specified that the matchday doctor retains the power to “unilaterally remove any injured player for HIA assessment, or to remove a player from the game if necessary”.