Jack Nowell calls for rugby to adopt technology to limit concussions as decision to carry on after head injuries must be taken ‘out of our hands’
- Jack Nowell played on before being taken off for an HIA against Italy
- Tomas Francis played against England displaying showing signs of concussion
- Nowell believes decision to carry on must be taken out of players’ hands
- Technology measures size of a collision through sensors placed in mouthguard
- Harlequins and Gloucester are already working to adopt equipment
Jack Nowell believes revolutionary technology which aims to limit concussion will soon be brought in at men’s Test level.
England wing Nowell was at the centre of one of two incidents in the Six Nations to date which have again raised questions over the sport’s head injury protocols.
Nowell briefly played on before being taken off for a head injury assessment (HIA) against Italy.
Jack Nowell believes technology aimed at limiting concussions will be brought in soon
Wales prop Tomas Francis also carried on against England at Twickenham after showing tell-tale signs of concussion.
Francis – a former team-mate of Nowell’s at Exeter – was taken off only after Wales medics studied video footage. Unlike Nowell, he passed his HIA and returned to the field.
Player welfare group Progressive Rugby described the Francis incident as a ‘clear and flagrant breach of HIA protocol.’
Nowell briefly played on against Italy before being taken off for an Head Injury Assessment
Tomas Francis was taken off only after Wales medics studied video footage of his collision
Both the Nowell and Francis knocks would have been picked up instantly had their respective teams been using technology which measures the size of a collision through sensors placed in the players’ mouthguard. Premiership clubs Harlequins and Gloucester are already working with the equipment.
England’s and New Zealand’s women’s sides have also taken part in a World Rugby-commissioned study which has seen them use the mouthguards.
‘The reason I was so angry against Italy was probably because I was not allowed back on,’ said Nowell. ‘I completely understand safety and how much we are looked after on the field is the best thing for us. Personally, I am very grateful for that, but it is hard.
‘Any rugby player is going to be like “I’m fine, I think I am OK to carry on” but something like Franny’s (Francis) incident probably didn’t look too good on camera.
The England winger believes it’s important the decision to return to the pitch after a collision is taken out of the players’ hands for their own safety
‘You probably can’t shy away from that, especially when you are on video, rewinding it and watching it in slow motion and real time.’
As things stand, no men’s side is using mouthguard technology to try and limit concussions at Test level.
Asked if he’d like to see it adopted, Nowell said: ‘We are always learning about different things in rugby now and I am pretty sure it will be brought in pretty soon.
‘I could probably be knocked clean out and feel that I am recovered in a few seconds. It is important to take that decision out of our hands.’