Saracens players wore impact sensors in their Premiership win over London Irish on Saturday as part of a new initiative to research the damage caused by head injuries.
With the issue of concussions a growing concern in rugby, Saracens chiefs gave the go-ahead for players to use the device, which is called the xPatch and measures the size and direction of hits to the head
The gadgets, used for the first time in England having been introduced into the National Football League in the United States, are taped behind the ear and will help determine the effects of concussion.
Many retired players and medical experts have warned that repeated impacts during a player’s career may cause profound health issues later in life.
“We’re collecting data because we want answers,” Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths said.
“We don’t want to meet our players in 20 or 25 years’ time and find them suffering from dementia or any similar condition and reflect that we suspected something was going on but didn’t really know.
“We want to know. The findings will be reported in due course.”
Data from the devices is currently downloaded after the match but new sensors to be introduced later this year will provide real-time data, potentially providing a more accurate method of determining whether a player should leave the field or continue playing.
Premiership Rugby’s rugby director Phil Winstanley welcomed Saracens’ initiative.
“Player welfare is the number one priority at Premiership Rugby, so we welcome any initiative that helps our management of such an important issue as concussion,” he said.
“We will look forward to sitting down with Saracens to discuss the outcomes of the trial.”