Gift keeps players smiling
Nelson orthodontist Andrew Marriott is putting his money where his mouth is, donating 3800 mouthguards to young rugby players in Nelson and Marlborough.
Andrew, who is a partner in Nelson Orthodontics, approached the Tasman Rugby Union about the initiative earlier this year and the union happily agreed. The mouthguards were delivered to the clubs for their JAB players aged five to 14 and they were put to the test at games around the region last Saturday.
Nelson Orthodontics already supplies and fits professional standard mouth guards to the Tasman Makos players and Andrew said it made sense to extend that programme to all junior players. The New Zealand Rugby Union made it compulsory for all players to wear mouthguards in 1998 so they were a key part of a player's equipment.
"Our goal is to ensure the region's children enjoy the best in dental health," Andrew said. "Having children enjoy their rugby as safely as possible by providing mouth guards is a natural fit for us.
"It's one of those things we are really pleased to be involved with. It's a chance for our business to give something back to the community."
Andrew said research had shown that making mouthguards compulsory reduced the number of rugby-related dental claims by 43 per cent. They also helped protect against concussion and head injuries, he said.
Although custom fitted mouthguards were better than the "boil and bite ones" issued to the JAB players, Andrew said they were expensive and needed to be changed every few years because children's teeth changed a lot. A former rugby player "in a different, life and body shape", Andrew joked that the mouthguards were a step up from the ones he used as a junior player.
"I loved playing rugby as a kid and remember using the half time oranges as mouthguards in the second half."
Andrew and Tasman Makos player Andrew Goodman toured some of the grounds last Saturday to talk to the coaches and teams about their new mouthguards. Andrew Goodman said mouth guards were a critical part of his playing armour and praised Nelson Orthodontics for helping ensure the region's young players had adequate protection when they took the field.
Team coaches were equally impressed with the initiative with Takaka under-9 coach Hika Rountee saying "it's awesome and really good for the kids. It's fantastic that they have been donated because that's one less expense for the parents".