The coach urges caution for using untested technology, but some have criticised the view

Scotland won their fourth Calcutta Cup match in a row, and we were left in awe of a Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick. But there was another hot topic at Murrayfield. One which had Scotland boss Gregor Townsend question mouthguard tech being used in the manner it is currently.

In this tournament, players are wearing instrumented mouthguards. Medics will receive alerts if one of the male players experiences collisions above a force of 70G and 4,000 radians per second squared. And after George Turner became the first player forced off for HIA by ‘smart mouthguard’, it happened again, with Zander Fagerson take off in the first half against England.

Fagerson was given leave to return to play after his HIA and after the match, Townsend was keen to make a point about a perceived rush to use the technology.

“I saw the tackle again – just a normal tackle,” he said. “I think we have to really watch what we’re doing here. Trust in technology that’s not been proven.

“What we’ve been doing over the last few years is making sure that any symptoms that are seen, a number of people can flag up whether someone goes off for an HIA.

“Zander was taken off for ten minutes after what looked like a normal tackle but there was a spike alert from the mouthguard.

“I know in Super Rugby there were a couple of alerts and players were saying ‘ there’s nothing wrong here, I’ve just made a tackle’, so we’ve got to watch that because you don’t want to be taking off our best players off the field for 10 minutes if there are no issues around concussion.

“We want to protect our players, that’s for certain, but there’s a bit more work to do before this technology is correct.”

Down Under, the tech has come under fire. In the opening round of the Super Rugby Pacific some players removed from the field registered their dismay at being removed despite not feeling like they had any symptoms of brain injury. Crusaders leader Scott Barrett also publicly called it a “Step too far.”

However, there have been challenges to Townsend’s view.

Player welfare movement Progressive Rugby tweeted that, “if an alert is triggered it means a player has taken a significant impact that warrants further investigation, irrespective of whether he’s one of your best players or not,” while one commentor on Reddit said, “I’m a bit disappointed in Townsend”.

Asked at the weekend if he felt use of the mouthguard technology had been rushed, Townsend went on: “It’s a new thing in the Six Nations and it’s not been used at club level prior to the Six Nations. I’d hope they’d learn from today’s incident and obviously George Turner went off for ten minutes in the previous game.

“(We need) to make sure it’s as close to accurate as possible. that ‘s what we want.

“We have lots of eyes watching and players are now very good at saying ‘I’ve had a head injury here I have to go off’.

“I think we just need to do a bit more work here before we move on.”

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