Saracens players wore impact sensors during the match against London Irish on Saturday, launching the first element of the club’s ground-breaking programme to determine the effects of concussion on rugby players. The gadgets measure the force and direction of impact to the head, and are taped behind the ear lobe.
Edward Griffiths, chief executive, said: "We’re collecting data because we want answers. In simple terms, we don’t want to meet our players in 20 or 25 years’ time, to find them suffering from dementia or any similar condition, and to reflect we suspected something was going on but we didn’t really know. We want to know."
The sensors are produced by X2 Bio-systems in Seattle and have been worn by players in the National Football League in the USA. Data is currently downloaded after the match but, later this year, new sensors will provide real-time data, perhaps providing a more accurate method of determining whether a player should leave the field or safely continue playing.
The Saracens programme is funded by the Drake Foundation and led by the world’s leading experts in neurological disease.
Griffiths added: "We aspire to be a club that genuinely looks after its players, and nothing is more important than their medium and long term welfare. At Saracens, we feel obliged to ask these questions without delay and to seek answers, however uncomfortable they may be. The findings will be reported in due course."