It’s physical, it’s aggressive and it’s hard-hitting. But rugby is also surprisingly gentlemanly. The scrum-tastic scramble to victory is often credited with a nature as friendly as the game is tough.
Yet when international rivalries come into play, all that civility can go out of the window. Not that there’ll be any room for foul play at the upcoming World Cup, you understand. We’ve seen how technology has aided the modern game. Let’s see how it’s influencing its future.
Cheaters beware. You’re being watched like a hawk. Or more specifically Hawk Eye. It’s an instant video replay system able to aid and influence referee decisions within seconds. Any officiating requires pin-sharp precision to determine the difference between a try and a foul. With Hawk Eye a broadcast suite of a dozen camera angles in blistering HD can easily provide a visual and incontrovertible adjudication. Then there’s the referee’s wearable camera too. There’ll be no wriggle room for ambiguity come the on-field clashes.
Speaking of cameras, the World Cup is trialling some seriously next level surveillance tech. Security’s evolution has embraced the digital revolution by installing NEC’s biometric facial recognition technology at two of Japan’s main stadiums: Tokyo and Yokohama. Sports reporters should be subject to an easy pass through the gates thanks to ID cards and facial tech similar to those found in airport passport control. For those worried about personal data misuse, the tech is engineered to delete shots instantly once used.
Fanning the flames of fandom
Data is very much at the core of a new service offered by French consultancy and tech company Capgemini. They’ve created various statistics hubs that rely on a huge wealth of match and player data to provide fans, commentators and media professionals with stadiums’ worth of information as the tournament commences. Individual player and team stats can be accessed in seconds via an interactive dashboard, giving spectators the chance to interact with and predict the flow of games.
Worried about your country’s chances? Pit your team’s stats against the opposition for a probable outcome based on data and cross your fingers. Take a risk-averse punt and gamble against the Capgemini bot’s game predictor for an added competitive edge. It’s the information age taking its place on the world’s sporting stage.
All of which would count for nothing if it weren’t for the crucial oval-shaped ball that’s quite literally at the centre of the action.
Try this on for size
The rugby ball has always been stubbornly anti-spherical. Its defining characteristic has, pun intended, shaped the game over its near 200 years. However, its current incarnation for the next global competition is almost space age stuff.
Gilbert’s SIRIUS ball is the official ball of the World Cup. World class players will be literally getting to grips with the new textured surface and a pattern that aids swift water-dispersion; a far cry from the traditional water-logged leather balls of the past.
We’re already looking forward to the tournament. Whichever countries make it to that illustrious grand finale, we know that the tech is already ahead of the game.
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