Just when you thought you might get some sleep, and in case you missed the absolute blitz of publicity the inaugural WXV, the yellow and purple striped stepdaughter of World Rugby, begins this weekend. You can read more about it here. Anyone would think that launching a new global contest in parallel with the premier showpiece of men’s rugby might cause issues, but here we are.
Watching The Games
This page shows the official broadcasters in a range of countries. In Australia the games are on going to be on Stan, in the UK they’ll be on ITV X or S4C. If you live outside the countries that are listed there’s an app with a streaming service from World Rugby. I have to say the app looks pretty good but obviously I’m not going to be using it, because I’ll be locked out.
The Wallaroos are down to play the first match of WXV1 in Wellington, Friday, 20 October 1900 local time. WXV2 and WXV3 start this weekend in South Africa and Dubai respectively.
Setting Your Expectations
The Wallaroos are in a tough group with England, France and New Zealand plus Canada and Wales.
That’s the current Women’s World Cup holders, the current (and seemingly forever) holders of the Women’s Six Nations, their perennial rivals, the rapidly improving third best team in Europe who have been professional for almost two years now, and Canada who are comfortably above Australia in points column in the world rankings.
How the matches will actually play out is, of course, a different matter, but it might be wiser to expect something closer to a Wallabies-like performance than a Jones-like prediction.
A Change For The Future
The start of WXV will see a change to the laws with the launch of smart mouthguards. These will be required at the elite level and mouthguards (smart or otherwise) will be encouraged at all levels. This is because research in ice hockey showed that wearing a mouthguard reduces the risk of a concussion by 20%.
The smart mouthguards will be used during games to supplement the HIA test. This seems to take the form of alerting medical staff if high acceleration thresholds, likely to cause concussion-type injuries, are passed. However, the “acceleration load” can also be determined, giving the medical staff a measure of sub-concussive trauma and allowing them to advise on training to manage recovery.
These smart mouthguards have a “boil and bite” version – accelerometers and bluetooth chips are really cheap, and obviously pretty resilient, these days. So they are going to be available deep into the community game if people want to use them.
Although not linked to smart mouthguards, as part of the same announcement, World Rugby is updating the community guidelines to have a 21 day return to play process following a concussion. Exactly how well this will be received I don’t know. My impression is that the vast majority of people have seen at least one person affected by CTE, been affected by that themselves and will pay attention to these guidelines. I’m sure there are some blowhards out there (there always are) but I think most people reckon missing a few games now is better than not being able to string a sentence together in 20 years time.
Good luck to the Wallaroos.