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Men's rugby league Salford to use gum shields containing microchips to monitor impact of collisions

SALFORD'S players will wear gumshields containing a microchip in the new Super League season to aid research into the effects of concussion.

The Red Devils are to use a system designed by Welsh company Sports & Wellbeing Analytics that uses sensor technology to send data in real time to a pitchside receiver that examines the impact on players’ heads.

The chip’s placement within the gumshield means it is connected to the players’ upper jaw, the only part of the body that cannot move independently of the skull.

The “protecht” system is already in use in the Rugby Union Premiership at Leicester, Gloucester and Harlequins; and Salford, whose hopes of bringing in the technology in 2020 were dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, aim to blaze a trail for Super League.

Salford lead physiotherapist Rob Artingstall said: “We are looking to use protecht’s outstanding technology to help us get detailed data on one of the only things that can’t accurately be quantified in rugby league: the collision.

“By getting this information, we can help protecht with their research into concussion and spot potential patterns that may help identify players who are at increased risk.

“We can also use the data to plan the quantity and intensity of our contact sessions on a weekly basis which could help us strike the right balance between performance and looking after the players physically and mentally.

“We can also use the technology to progress players back from injury and to help inform us from a recovery point of view. It truly is cutting-edge technology that will help look after player welfare as well as help drive performance.”

Salford director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “As a club, we always look to take care of our players, and their welfare is of upmost importance to us and will always be at the forefront when we are investigating new equipment and topics.

“The [gumshields] will enable our doctors and physios to make the right decisions for our players on the back of the analytical data available as a result of our players wearing them.

“The effects on players from rugby collisions alone is an area of research that is gathering pace all over the world, and for Salford Red Devils to be at the forefront of this research is an extremely important addition to our own research and development programmes.”

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