Rugby and technology will merge on Friday, that’s thanks to a partnership between the FNB Varsity Cup and Sportable. The latter working alongside Gilbert for the past five years to perfect the world’s first smart rugby ball.
The technology has managed to make its way onto the field in the past couple of years, enjoying trials successfully in England. The England national team, Leicester Tigers and Bath were the first to give the ball a go in training. As a result, it could move to tests in real match situations. Gilbert had the ball feature at a sevens type Rugby union tournament in the UK called Rugby X.
In the five years it has spent in development, it has been exposed to stringent testing. Gilbert’s engineers have been working around the clock to perfect the tech. A whole lot of effort, sweat and tears have gone into making sure that the tech inside the ball returns accurate data and doesn’t affect how the ball behaves on the field or in the air.
Watch: The Smart Ball put through the wringer.
Cutting edge competition.
The FNB Varsity Cup has always been at the forefront of innovation, acting as the so-called guinea pigs of countless law trials. This includes double referees, different try values and the Power Play rule in 2018, where a team could remove two backline players for three minutes.
An African first.
Friday’s playoff matches will see the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball used in Africa for the first time.
Fans can expect insightful statistics throughout SuperSport’s live broadcasts as well as awesome in-game graphics on the FNB Varsity Cup’s social media platforms.
With existing data capture technologies have hit their ceiling, ball tracking data creates a digital impression of the most meaningful on-field events. This digital blueprint is far more complex than the event data currently produced for rugby.
“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,” says Dugald Macdonald, Sportable founder and CEO. “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.”
What the tech does.
The device inside the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball tracks the following key events during a rugby match:
• Kicks in play
• Goal kicks
• Restart kicks
• Ruck speed
In future competitions, the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball will instantly detect and alert referees to forward passes.
The data metrics include:
• Spin rate
• Spiral efficiency
• Reload time (time from catching to passing)
• Start/end time
• Start/end coordinates
• Angle to posts
• Kick difficulty and success