Tim Patrick-smith
Tim Patrick-smith 2 November 2015

A Data Powered World Cup

Rugby Union is becoming increasingly progressive when it comes to sports technology, and this year's World Cup final reflected this.

Rugby Union is becoming increasingly progressive when it comes to sports technology, and this year’s World Cup final will reflect this.

On the pitch, Hawk Eye, vision processing technology that uses cameras to track the ball and players, will enable referees to make more accurate decisions and medical teams to immediately assess potential concussion injuries, while in the stands fans will have the option to use audio feeds that provide different levels of commentary based on their knowledge of the game.

However, although less talked about, one of the most exciting developments in the game is the way new data sources will be used by individual teams and the businesses supporting them. Although the most important decisions of the final will be made by coaches and management, the team with the best data will be at a distinct advantage.

By understanding how this data can be used and providing the expertise to facilitate this, the squad with the right knowledge will have an upper hand. Finding the winning margin As recently as 15 years ago, the only sources of data that rugby teams had to hand was quantitative information such as the number of fouls, kicks and red cards given during a game.

This has changed dramatically in recent years, with all of the teams involved having a trove of structured and unstructured data available to extract insight from. GPS technology installed on each player’s shirt during training and on the pitch will provide in-depth information on speed, distance travelled and position.

In addition, each team will use optimised cameras to analyse each aspect of the game. By combining this data, coaches and players will be able to gain a much better understanding of tactics. By tracking the average distance of a player’s kick, for example, coaches will be able to advise team members on the most likely place to catch the ball the next time around.

Insight like this is invaluable; a large number of games at a professional level are now decided by the smallest of margins, meaning that having this intelligence can be the difference between winning and losing. Of course, in order for the analysis of this data to be useful, it needs to be presented in a way that both players and coaches can understand and access.

To give an example at club level, Bath Rugby have engaged IT Services company Getronics to provide their players, coaches and analysts with access to information through iPads, enabling each of them access to tailored reports on their performance in games and training. Since the squad are always on the move, this access has proved essential in empowering each player to take ownership of his own development and success.

Additionally, to get value from this data, architects and integration engineers are proving to be essential. Data architects create the infrastructure to support data collection and analysis and the integration engineers allow disparate sources of data to be combined and compared. With data spanning across both structured and unstructured forms, the ability to work with both relational and non-relational databases is vital. Equally, since being on the move is part and parcel of the rugby world, much of this data is stored in the cloud and therefore cloud management skills are also required.

Off the field Rugby aside, the World Cup has given a huge boost to business with EY estimating it will add £1bn in total to the UK economy.

With today’s rugby fans being the most connected of all time, the brands who are able to make the most of the data surrounding the final will be the ones that win the proverbial silverware.

By fully understanding how fans are engaging with content both in the stadium and at home, marketers will be in a better position to reach the right people with the right message at the right time.

With additional information such as team preference, gender and online behaviours all being available for analysis, the business opportunities for those involved are significant. When the players take to the pitch at the weekend, it will be the IT professionals behind the scenes who will be just as important in determining the outcome of the match.

Aside from being the third biggest sporting event in the world, the World Cup has highlighted the increasing role of data knowledge and IT in sport.

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
The 8 Most Effective Words to Use in Your Next Email

The 8 Most Effective Words to Use in Your Next Email

There are 8 simple, yet effective words you can use to increase engagement in your next email. You can use these words strategically to inspire your subscribers to take action or develop good feelings about you and your brand. Read on to learn about these 8 words and how to use them in your emails.

Shelby McGuigan
Shelby McGuigan 8 August 2017
Read more
4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

It goes without saying that a company can't do without digital marketing in today's world.

Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 5 November 2014
Read more
What is a CMS?

What is a CMS?

You’ve heard the term CMS, but what is it, what does it actually do? A CMS empowers you to get your companies' message out there, internally, externally or both.

Sean Hargrave
Sean Hargrave 14 August 2017
Read more
The Importance of Customer Relationship Management Within a Business

The Importance of Customer Relationship Management Within a Business

In a world where competition is becoming ever fiercer, businesses need to implement customer relationship management, or CRM, strategies in order to stay ahead of their rivals.

Emma Newbury
Emma Newbury 18 April 2016
Read more