Rugby World Cup 2015: Hawk-Eye, augmented reality and apps


The Rugby World Cup 2015 is the most interactive tournament in the history of the sport, embracing new technologies such as Hawk-Eye, augmented reality and apps.

New for the 2015 Rugby World Cup is Hawk-Eye.

Of course, rugby is no stranger to technology. TV replays were introduced in 2001 to help referees award tries. While wearable technology has led to the creation of Reflink, a system that allows spectators to hear conversations between referees and players on the pitch. Both bring you closer to the action than ever before.

New for the 2015 Rugby World Cup is Hawk-Eye. This is the same multi-camera, ball-tracking system used in tennis (for the Challenge System), in cricket (for the Umpire Decision Review System) and now in Premier League football (for goal-line technology).

Hawk-Eye’s SMART Replay technology has been deployed at the tournament’s 13 venues to assist Television Match Officials (TMOs) when decisions are referred to them.

Hawk-Eye at the Rugby World Cup 2015
The multi-camera Hawk-Eye system gives match officials a speedier and more accurate way to make borderline decisions.

The technology enables TMOs to view all broadcast angles in real-time, slow the action down, zoom-in, even use split screen views. Of course, it’s not infallible. But it’s much quicker to use than the old TV replays and it should help officials to avoid making bad decisions, like Mark Cueto’s disallowed try in the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final.

The Hawk-Eye system also shares its data with medical staff enabling them to review the severity of head impacts (especially potential concussions) and other injuries.

Off the pitch, Rugby World Cup tickets have codes embedded into them so they can interact with the augmented reality app, Blippar. When spectators scan their tickets with a smartphone, they can unlock exclusive AR content — a 360 degree view of the stadium, the trophy, the option to take a selfie with the official Rugby World Cup ball.

Blippar augmented reality ticket - Rugby World Cup 2015
Using the Blippar augmented reality app, Rugby World Cup 2015 tickets take on a whole new dimension with interactive content.

Inside the various stadiums, headsets offer a link to the referees, a channel for normal commentary and a special “novice” channel to explain the action to those who are new to the sport. ITV, the official Rugby World Cup 2015 broadcaster, even has its own app that allows you to play along with the games as you watch them.

The app includes a fun swipe kicking game called Kick It! Play the game on a smartphone or tablet as you watch a match and you can try to kick for goal from the same positions on the pitch as the real kicks are being taken.

ITV's Kick It! app for the Rugby World Cup 2015
ITV’s Kick It! app for Android and iOS gives you key statistics and enables you to play along with matches as you watch.

Behind the scenes, what you don’t usually see is how modern sports science is helping teams assess player conditioning and maximize their performance.

Focusing on player performance

The GSK Human Performance Lab (HPL) already works with the RFU, Harlequins RFC and Wasps RFC to improve player strength, stamina, cognition, hydration, metabolism and recovery.

As GSK HPL’s Dr. Ken van Someren, Director of Research and Development explains: “We have an array of hi-tech equipment and a world class team of scientists to focus on the science behind our partners’ performance – whether it be cognitive training programmes in the neuroscience lab, heat acclimation in the environmental chamber, or a V̇O2max test in the hydro flume.”

The GSK Human Performance Laboratory
The GSK Human Performance Laboratory. Copyright onEdition 2015.

The margins between victory and defeat are often tiny; they can often hinge on a single moment of individual brilliance or a lapse in concentration.

With ever shrinking IoT platforms, scientific training regimes, increased wireless connectivity and data analysis, technology is set to play an increasing role in the future of sport for many years to come.

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