Home Technology South Africa makes use of a new Smart Ball for Varsity Cup rugby games.

South Africa makes use of a new Smart Ball for Varsity Cup rugby games.

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Rugby might be a sport that appears to rely on brawn over brain, but the truth is that there is a lot of deep strategy and critical thinking that is required to not just outmuscle a team but outsmart it as well. Just take the recent 2019 victory for the Springboks over England as a recent example of how a better strategy makes a difference in winning a game.

And now to aid in a lot of that strategic thinking, the sport is going to be including some incredible technology to understand the game even further. This weekend saw the introduction of a Smart Ball in South African rugby for the first time at the Varsity Cup, which has been recently tried out in the UK and Europe to considerable success. An initiative that the tournament hopes will help the television experience and the team themselves better understand the events of a game, as reported on their website.

We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to work with Varsity Cup and SuperSport to bring our solutions to fans and coaches in South Africa. Varsity Cup’s reputation for pioneering new developments in the game is second to none, so we view the introduction of the Smart Ball on Friday as just the start of a long, exciting partnership.

The current Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball tracks the following key events during a rugby match and presents this information back to match officials and teams:

  • Kicks in play
  • Goal kicks
  • Restart kicks
  • Lineouts
  • Passes
  • Possession
  • Territory
  • Ruck speed

That is all useful data for teams to capture, though Gilbert is already working on enhancements that to provide an even better understand of a ball’s movements including:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Trajectory
  • Hang-time
  • Spin rate
  • Spiral efficiency
  • Reload time (time from catching to passing)
  • Start/end time
  • Start/end coordinates
  • Angle to posts
  • Kick difficulty and success

Gilbert will also be using the technology to detect forward passes and alert refs to these, which might also make detecting these and the whole officiating process far quicker, if the company can prove its accuracy with this exciting technology.

I know many people might not be fans of mixing technology and sports as it takes away from a lot of the traditional elements to the game and can often slow it down or get in the way in the pursuits of accuracy in every decision, but I for one welcome all these improvements and think that when used wisely, this technology will only help to make the sport far better as athletes push themselves to greater heights.

Last Updated: May 31, 2021

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