New gadget will flag up risky head knocks on rugby field

An innovative new device has been created to flag up potentially dangerous head injuries in young rugby players.

Euan Bowens device lights up if a player is hit hard on the pitch
Euan Bowens device lights up if a player is hit hard on the pitch

The apparatus, known as Hit, was dreamed up by Euan Bowen, a design student at Edinburgh Napier University.

It can be attached to the laces of a scrum cap and will light up if the wearer receives a hard knock during a rugby match.

The gadget is intended to identify possible head injuries rather than prevent them.

The aim is to make it easier for coaches to recognise when a youth player requires medical attention.

The 25-year-old student, who plays rugby himself for Stewart’s Melville RFC, has worked closely with the team’s youth division to produce the prototype.

He was inspired to work on the idea after a team-mate was injured during a game.

“I had a close friend that had to take a considerable amount of time out of rugby because of a concussion and it really got me thinking that there must be some sort of way of identifying this type of injury earlier to aid recovery,” he said.

“Hit’s design is simple. It is a little device that attaches to an existing scrum cap which will light up when a child receives a tackle of a predetermined force. The project is all about making youth rugby safer without taking away elements like tackling that makes the sport what it is today.”

Head trauma in professional rugby has been under intense scrutiny recently, with a host of new initiatives aimed at improving the situation.

But Mr Bowen believes better guidance on identifying and treating head trauma in young players is needed.

“Positive steps have been taken in professional and semi-pro club rugby in terms of preventing and identifying head trauma,” he said.

“However, I believe that kids are notorious for keeping things to themselves so there are still a lot of potential incidents going unnoticed at youth level.”

He added: “Youth rugby players really do come in all shapes and sizes, so anything we can do to help identify this type of injury as early as possible will mean that the game we all love so much will be in good stead for years to come.”

Bruce Ruthven, of Stewart’s Melville RFC’s youth section, said: “It is great to see that Euan has taken significant interest in this area to assist towards the safeguarding and protection of our players.

“His findings and research are both inspiring and appreciated by the rugby community, and we look forward to seeing the development of this ground-breaking project.”