24 Feb 2024

Players and coaches hit out at new technology as baffled players removed from the field

12:26 pm on 24 February 2024
Scott Barrett (Captain) of the Crusaders.
Chiefs v Crusaders, DHL Super Rugby Pacific, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on the Saturday 23 February 2024. Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz

Scott Barrett has vented his frustration about the use of smart mouthguards. Photo: Jeremy Ward

The use of mandatory smart mouthguards has come under scrutiny in Super Rugby Pacific's opening round from Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan.

And he isn't the only one concerned by the overreach in technology, with Crusaders captain Scott Barrett blasting the enforced removal of players from the field due to the new devices at the post-match media conference.

World Rugby has invested several millions in developing the new technology which can send notifications to pitch-side doctors when a player is impacted.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said it hindered his decision-making in the 33-29 win against the Crusaders last night when midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown was pulled for a head injury assesment.

"We're all well aware of protocals but Anton didn't feel like he needed to come off but the medical team here on the sidelines indicated otherwise," McMillan said.

"The tough thing for us was the game was right in the balance.

"You're making decisions around do you exhaust your bench, could it go to extra-time, do we need to save somebody and really those decisions got taken away from us."

Lienert-Brown was visibly frustrated at being forced from the field.

Clayton McMillan head coach of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Pacific rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday February 23, 2024. Copyright photo: Aaron Gillions / www.photosport.nz

Clayton McMillan head coach of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Pacific rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on 23 February, 2024. Photo: Aaron Gillions / Photosport

In the Crusaders camp, the technology wasn't welcomed with open arms either.

Red and black captain Scott Barrett said his lock Quinten Strange was the first to be pulled from the contest on Friday night.

"Honestly, I think it's probably a step too far for a player when you're getting dragged and you're looking around at what actually happened," Scott Barrett said.

"Player welfare is paramount but if you're influencing the game when key players are going off and you don't know what for, it can be frustrating for a player.

"There needs to be a happy medium somewhere within it."

Meanwhile Crusaders coach Rob Penney was more measured in his critique of the developing technology.

"It's going global - whether we like it or not we've got to live with it," Rob Penney said.

"We have a duty of care to pursue and we'll deal with the repercussions as they unfold."