Rugby fans will soon be able to get even closer to the action using their mobile devices thanks to a new partnership between the RFU and IBM.
The technology giant has revealed it will be providing rugby’s governing body with a wealth of new services that will boost the game at all levels, as well as bringing fans closer to the action than ever before.
“Fan experience and customer experience doesn't stand still and we want to continue to raise the bar,” Drew Crisp, IBM technological expert, told TechRadar Pro.
“Many organisations think that just buying some technology will be a silver bullet, but it really isn't...you have to blend what technology can offer with what fans really want to experience.”
IBM has been working with the RFU for the past five years, but is now looking to bring even more of its technological expertise to the sport.
The company has recently partnered with the All England Lawn Tennis Club to help boost fan engagement and technology integration at the Wimbledon tennis championships over the past few years to widespread acclaim.
Now, IBM is looking to do much the same for rugby, in time for next year’s 6 Nations tournament, as well as the looming 2019 World Cup in Japan.
This includes bringing “a world-leading experience” for fans both inside and outside the stadium, including a redesigned matchday hub and mobile apps to keep track of all the action, as well as personalised offers, alerts and more.
Players will also benefit from greater analysis and insight into their own performance, with IBM’s systems using video and match data to track every second of play to spot particular strengths and areas to be improved on.
At the grassroots level, IBM will also be providing technological expertise to build a database of players and teams to help the RFU manage the development of rugby across the country as it looks to boost player numbers.
All of this engagement will help feed into the growing excitement around rugby, IBM says, and hopefully encourage more people to play the game.
"Everything we're going to do with the RFU is about changing the experience and changing the game of rugby,” says Crisp, “it's not just the elites at all, everybody should be getting the benefit of it!"
“It's not about whether or not our technology can help England win the World Cup,” he adds, “it's about how we can help them find the small differentiator in their performance...something they could do or try that they might not have thought of before.”
“This is for all teams...this is about changing rugby for the better.”