Rugby World Cup 2015: 6 ways tech will play its part in this year’s tournament

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.

Hawk­-Eye

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.

Thanks to

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”.

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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.

It’s like a window into the stadium itself.

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The ball

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.

The Stadium

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.

See also: Best headphones for running

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The kit

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

absorption.

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.

hawkeye

The broadcaster

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

content.

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.

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