With the 2015 Rugby World cup kicking off on home soil, we take a closer look at the technology to watch out for during the month of rugger action.
This promises to be the most tech-heavy Rugby World Cup since the tournament first started in 1987 and with such a massive audience, companies are naturally keen to show off all the tech at their disposal.
The Rugby World Cup will see augmented reality stadium tours, the best instant
replay tech ever seen, apps that let you compete with the best players in the world
(from the comfort of your sofa, naturally), as well as the smartest kit and ball to ever
grace the game.
Are you ready for it? You will be once you’ve read our guide to
the tournament’s biggest tech.
This is the same tech used in replays in football and tennis to see if the ball went
over the line, and it’s making its way to the Rugby World Cup in September. World Rugby – the sport’s governing body
– trialled the Hawk-Eye SMART technology during the Guinness Pro12 season, with the support
of Sky Sports. It also carried out trials at the World Rugby U20 Championship in
Italy in June with the input of broadcaster ITV.
The aim of the trial was to see if
HawkEye can enhance player welfare while “strengthening the accuracy and
efficiency of the television match official (TMO) decisionmaking process”. In other
words, to see if can help determine whether the ball went over the line.
HawkEye’s ‘SMART Replay’ system, the TMO will have access to simultaneous
multipleangle replays in realtime and slow motion. Medical staff will also have access to asses head injuries from impact. Brett Gosper, World Rugby’s
chief executive, has said this kind of tech is “an important component of the rugby
performance and fan engagement environments and Rugby Word Cup 2015 is set
to showcase innovation and performance to a record global audience”.
Augmented reality tours
In a first for a major sporting event, augmented reality is being used to give fans an
immersive 360-degree interactive experience. Just scan your ticket with your
smartphone using the Blippar app, and you’ll unlock a 360degree view of the
stadium you’ll be attending.
You’ll also get a match preview courtesy of three of the
greatest England players ever: Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Will
Greenwood. Not bad at all. Plus, from August, you’ll be able to see the view from
your seat and have access to navigational tools that’ll help you get to the match.
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It’s like a window into the stadium itself.
The ball will be the latest in Gilbert’s Match XV line. Gilbert conducted an extensive
two year development process to come up with a new surface compound to give
better grip without compromising subtlety or durability.
It’s also improved the
surface design to enable quicker water dispersion. Should come in handy when
the heavens open. If you want to try it for yourself, you can buy a replica one from
the official shop.
If you’d prefer to drown out the singing from the opposition, the 2015 World Cup will introduce an in-ear commentary service that’ll be available in all host stadiums for £10. Listening in on the ref’s decisions when he is giving the players a dressing down for a high tackle has been around for some time but now there’s also the option for foreign commentary and a newbie mode. This is basically for anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a scrum and line-out. Although that should pretty obvious for most.
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England’s home kit is white as usual, but the rose emblem has been given a bit of
a facelift. It’s been 3D injection moulded and developed through rapid prototyping
technology. The shirt also features contoured ‘ball deadening’ grip placement to
complement the players’ physiques. Though let’s face it, when you’re built like
James Haskell you’ll look good in anything.
The new kit involved more than 220
hours of testing and over 250,000 miles of travel to perfect the design. It’s the
lightest kit that maker Canterbury has ever produced, which should help the
players stay quick on their feet. It should stay light too, thanks to minimal moisture
Dynamic heat management properties mean the players won’t
overheat, or freeze if it gets nippy. Its superenhanced fit technology was
developed through positionspecific 3D bodymapping to support the various
physiques of the modern rugby player, from stacked to extremely stacked. The kit
can be yours for £120.
ITV has the exclusive broadcast rights to the tournament in the UK, and it’ll take
full advantage of such an opportunity to reach fans. Not only will it show the vast
majority of the games live on ITV1 – relegating huge ratings winner The X Factor
to Sunday nights – it will also show the lesser matches on ITV4.
So even if you’re
supporting one of the underdogs, you’ll be able to follow the action. ITV is also
prepping a host of digital content, including a flick rugby game for smartphones
which features a ‘live’ mode that lets you take the same kick from the same spot as
players in the match you’re watching.
So you can pit yourself against the best in
the world without getting off the sofa. Expect plenty more digital goodies around
the tournament too – according to a recent report, the average UK rugby fan has
4.6 devices in their home, making them a prime target for apps and other branded
More than half of rugby fans multitask on their smartphones while
watching the game at home, and 44 per cent do so at the stadium. Expect
sponsors and other big brands to leap on this opportunity.