Rugby Tech: from heated trousers to gloves and drones

Whole Body Cryotherapy: The technique has been used in rugby to aid recovery (Getty Images) Rugby World

We take a look at some of the rugby tech which has come in an out of the game.

Rugby Tech

The 21st century is awash with technology and sport is no different. We take a look at some of the clever, and not so clever, innovations that have hit rugby.

Heated Trousers

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When the ‘Beast From The East’ rolled in with its sub-zero temperatures, the idea of heated trousers sounded like a brilliant one. England coach Eddie Jones championed this idea for his side’s Six Nations clash with Scotland in Murrayfield in round three, but he wasn’t the first.

He borrowed the idea from British Cycling who introduced heated shorts for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The product’s creator, Lizard Heat, claims the idea is similar to a Formula One tire in that the trousers are designed to heat deep into the muscle.

Bench: Heated Trousers being used by Jamie George (The Times/Getty Images) Rugby World

According to their website, the trousers are rechargeable, have their own power packs, and have three temperature settings. Low is 38-42 degrees, medium 40-45, and high is 45-50 degrees.

There is method to the madness as evidence suggests injuries are more likely to occur as muscles cool down after warming up.

However, considering England got beaten pretty convincingly against Scotland, it might be a while before the trousers are used again.

Related: Six Things We Learnt In Round Three


Drones have become incredibly popular in modern times as they can offer incredibly picturesque shots as they fly high into the air. But Eddie Jones again sought to find a rugby application for them.

The drones were used to film training sessions which had clear benefits. The footage would illustrate where the space on the field is, the shape of the team in defence and attack, the movement of the players, and it gives a video representation of what Jones wants to put across.

Sometimes seeing is believing and drones fill that need.

Birds Eye: Drones give England Rugby a better view of their training sessions (Getty Images) Rugby World

Grippy Gloves

Grippy gloves used to be all the rage with well-known players like Matt Dawson, Steve Thompson and Stirling Mortlock.

Again, like the heated trousers above, there was a logical argument for their use. To give extra grip especially when the ball was greasy and wet.

But they have fallen out of fashion big time, and show no sign of returning.

Gloves: Matt Dawson used grippy gloves for Northampton and England (Getty Images) Rugby World


Back in 2015, England started using GPS to analyse their training sessions with a little monitor that was placed between their shoulder blades.

Sport scientist Ben Pollard was in control of the technology which “sends a signal back and forth from a satellite that picks up how fast and how far they are running, and how many accelerations and decelerations they have had.”

This also had the effect of driving up work-rate because each player was so competitive that they wanted to come top of the standings when they analysed the data.

This is commonplace now, with all elite sides tracking GPS data. You can also purchase the equipment and software needed for you amateur club, through various companies.


The Welsh national side used cryotherapy before the 2011 World Cup and Warren Gatland’s side continued to use them throughout the 2012 Six Nations. Sam Warburton in particular injured his knee during a victory against England and was sent into a mobile cryotherapy unit to speed up recovery.

Italy also used a cryo-therapy camber as a build up for the 2015 World Cup in England.

Freezing: Leonardo Ghiraldini uses a chamber before the 2015 World Cup (Getty Images) Rugby World

The chambers do so by subjecting players to intensely cold temperatures, so their bodies release endorphins to allow recovery to occur faster. It also reduces inflammation and swelling. Itis believed that this type of therapy allows players to train up to three times a day.

Whole body cryotherapy started in Japan in 1978 and despite being uncomfortable for players, it appears to work.

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