From amateur clubs to the Aviva Premiership, mouthguards are on display in most matches.
But it is not compulsory at amateur level to wear mouthguards and a lot of players fail to wear them because some feel uncomfortable and find it difficult to breathe with them in.
For the past three seasons Shock Doctor has been the official mouthguard supplier to Aviva Premiership club Saracens and now the deal has been extended for a further two.
Three of their stars Marcelo Bosch, Nathan Earle and Schalk Brits speak about their experiences with mouthguards and what they like about Shock Doctor.
All three believe the wearing of mouthguards should be made compulsory at all levels of the game. Mouthguards are compulsory for school rugby, however, the RFU strongly recommend that mouthguards are worn for any contact rugby sessions at club level but are not compulsory.
Marcelo Bosch, an Argentina international centre who racked up 39 caps, who can also play flyhalf and centre, said: “I remember myself, being young, I didn’t like that much to use them because of how uncomfortable they were. I felt much more comfortable without using them. But when you have one that really suits your mouth, it’s comfortable and you can breathe and speak and communicate to your team-mates it’s quite easy to use it and I think it should be an obligation because, at the end of the day, it is your safety. And if it is your safety it would be good for everyone to use it not just the schools but the players who are playing professional rugby or in other clubs.”
Wing and full-back Nathan Earle agrees that a mouthguard is an esssentail bit of kit, he added: “I think it is hugely important to wear a mouthguard. A lot of the players have kids and they will be playing contact sports of some sort – so knowing that they’ve got a mouthguard brand that’s protecting them, protecting their kids, you know the quality of the brand, you know how good they are – So I feel that is hugely important.
“I played in New Zealand for a bit and it’s compulsory to wear a mouthguard at club rugby there. If there’s a player on the pitch not wearing a mouthguard then he risks being taken off the pitch until he’s got one. So I think having a mouthguard in is paramount to your protection because it doesn’t only protect you but it protects others from your teeth.”
South African hooker Schalk Brits, who has been capped ten times for his country, added: “As a parent and a professional the first thing I put on my kids wouldn’t be shoulder pads or headgear it would be mouthgaurds. My kid is five, he doesn’t play contact rugby yet but he already has a mouthguard.
“So for me it it essential that it is compulsory to wear mouthguards. I played when I was younger, and learned the hard way. I played in a professional game without a mouthguard. I bit through my tongue and my lip and had multiple stitches inside and outside, it was just foolishness. The first thing the doctor said was why didn’t you play with a mouthguard?”
Shock Doctor have been working with retailers, councils and other interested groups to improve the standard of mouthguards. All Shock Doctor mouthguards are CE approved and they believe there should be a minimum standard.
This is echoed by the Saracen trio for a variety of reasons.
Bosch said: “It has to fit really well to your teeth, it doesn’t have to be really big. It just has to be thin enough to cover your teeth. So it is not so uncomfortable that you want to take it out every time.
“I remember having that feeling when I was younger but with Shock Doctor you feel that you can cope with it during the whole game. It’s not uncomfortable and that is the main thing. It is comfortable and it protects your teeth well.
“I remember using really cheap mouthguards when I was younger. I used it for one game and then got rid of it because I wasn’t comfortable with it. I think that if a mouthguard has a minimum standard surely everyone will be comfortable in using them and it won’t be a problem.”
Earle has really enjoyed using Shock Doctor mouth guards.
He added: “It’s been my favourite mouthguard I have had, it’s a really snug fit, it’s not too solid so it’s not uncomfortable to wear and it’s fitted round my mouth real well so I am really comfortable with it. The material is a little bit softer but I still feel very well protected.
“It’s an easier mouthguard to play with, I can communicate better in it. I can still actually talk whereas most mouthguards you have to take out of your mouth or are worried about it falling out if you are shouting.”
Brits added: “I quite liked the way the mouthguard has to set. Everyone has a way that they want their mouthguard to feel. For me it was quite amazing that Shock Doctor were there to see to my needs. I don’t like to take my mouthguard in and out the whole time, I like to keep it in as much as I can. It needs to be thin but yet protective and strong.
“Secondly, I have a habit of just playing with a white one, it’s a superstition, so they made me a white one. So from my point of view they ticked all the boxes and it’s been a pleasure having a Shock Doctor in my mouth.
“What you have, that is quite amazing, is you have this big brand that will tweak your mouthguard for you because when you get into big quantities you lose the personal touch. But a company like Shock Doctor will come and tweak the shape of the mouthguard and make it so comfortable.
“For me in essence I want to feel protected in my mouth without actually feeling a mouthguard. Some brands are just so big and lumpy in your mouth that you can’t actually communicate, you struggle to breath and that’s why a lot of people ditch mouthguards. However, if you have a great fitting mouthguard, like Shock Doctor, it is a pleasure wearing it”