September 21, 2021

The Guardian: Were microchipped mouthguards the key to Harlequins’ success?

That Harlequins are the champions of England is one of the great imponderables, given the bleakness of their midwinter.

Quins were one of three teams in the Premiership last season to adopt a technology called PROTECHT, through which they were able to monitor accurately and in real time every single significant impact, direct or indirect, to every single player’s head.

Quins ended up shaping their training methods around the new technology. 

“On average, we were able to reduce the amount of contact in training each week by 40 to 60%,” says Mike Lancaster, head of medical science at the Stoop. “I say this tentatively, because I want to see how we go next season, but our player availability was the best it’s been in many, many years.”

So was the form – and, tellingly, freshness – of the squad as they raised the tempo, time and again, just as other teams started to flag. If the single easiest measure in response to the head-injury crisis is to limit contact in training, Harlequins have shown how players can benefit in the short term, let alone in later life.


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