Rechargeable Smart Balls: How Technology Is Changing the Face of Rugby


Technology has changed many aspects of our favourite sports and games in recent years, but how has it affected rugby? Rechargeable smart balls that let us track every movement made on the pitch represent one of the biggest steps forward, but how do they work and what do they add to our understanding of rugby?

Details of the New Balls

Sportable and Sage are the companies behind the smart ball that was used in the recent game between England and Argentina at Twickenham. Inside it, there’s a microchip, together with an accelerator and a gyroscope. These items are so small and lightweight that they don’t have any effect on the way the ball moves.

This is just part of the technology used, though. The other part is hidden in the framework of the stadium, where a range of sensors are used to track the ball’s position with almost 100% accuracy. All of this means that TV viewers can see things like kicking distances immediately, while hang time, ball speed and kicking angle are among the other pieces of data to be collected.

Work has already begun on taking this technology to the games in the Australia National Rugby League, where it could soon be used to help work out whether a pass has gone forward or not. However, at the moment, the data provided by the smart ball isn’t yet used by the match official in rugby union games, although this could come at a later stage.

How This is Part of an Overall Move Towards New Technology

Perhaps the most controversial new use of technology in the sporting world has come with football’s video assistant referee (VAR), where footage of incidents is reviewed instantly. The upcoming World Cup in Qatar is going to be a big test of this tech, which is similar to the Television Match Official (TMO) used in rugby.

In some sports, the use of cutting-edge technology has produced bigger changes, such as in the way that performance analytics is used in rugby, as well as in many other sports. Fan engagement is another area where we can expect to see huge advances, with the football World Cup in Qatar introducing the likes of a virtual concierge, selfie twins and easier access to information.

Emerging technology can also be seen in the way that sports are live-streamed, and this approach has also reached the likes of table games and card games too. This guide to smart roulette strategies shows us that classic tips still work and are applicable across both in-person and online variants. However, the option of choosing from a greater variety of online tables lets us find the perfect variant while it’s also easier to control our funds with an online account.

The use of a smart ball is a great step forward for rugby, as it combines the possibility of greater fan engagement with the chance for officials and teams to get hold of more accurate data instantly. Expect to see more new tech like this get brought into this and other sports before too long.

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