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February 01, 2013

IBM Brings Big Data Analytics to Rugby


The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and IBM today announced a strategic five year agreement in which IBM will implement an analytics solution to provide fans with real-time insights into the game, including information about individual performance by players – the IBM TryTracker.

In a first for rugby, IBM's Predictive Analytics software will analyse historic and current rugby data provided by Opta to provide valuable in-game stats. It will give viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game and explain what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of a team win against specific opponents.

The IBM TryTracker will include the 'Keys to the Game', to provide play-by-play insights during the game, and predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. For example, the system may predict that if a side hits their target in these aspects of their game then they are more likely to increase their chances of victory, for example the proportion of scrums won or rate of successful kicks. The data collected and provided by Opta for all England internationals is analysed by IBM, before being hosted on RFU.com.

In addition, the platform will feature a new way to represent 'Momentum', which depicts visual graphics of the match as it unfolds – and identifies key moments, decisions and turning points of the game. It will also determine the match's 'Key Influencers' by analysing every action of every player to reveal which three players are having the biggest positive impact on their team's overall performance. Results are based on position specific historical data, and will show the average performance of the player's teammates.

As well as providing the analytics for IBM TryTracker, the agreement also includes the implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) transformational plan for the RFU.

Sophie Goldschmidt , Chief Commercial Officer, RFU: "We're delighted to be working with a company of IBM's calibre. This important new long-term agreement will enable the RFU to give fans even more insight and understanding into what's happening on the pitch and why, as well as ensuring we remain at the forefront of new technology to enrich the overall fan experience. Our plans also involve utilising IBM's expertise to further benefit the grassroots game and enhance performance at the elite level."

"In sport and business, data is a game changer," said Martin Guillaume , Media and Sports Leader for IBM Global Business Services UK and Ireland.

This technology builds on what is already in use in well known global tennis tournaments such as Wimbledon, The Australian Open and The US Open. The world of sports, and many sporting teams alike, are finding new ways to uncover hidden insights from Big Data to gain a competitive edge. Analytics continues to change how sport is being viewed and played, ensuring that fans have a complete interactive experience so they do not miss a moment.

The IBM TryTracker can be accessed by all mobile devices and tablets. The three Keys to the Game will be released every Thursday ahead of the weekend match day during the RBS 6 Nations tournament taking place from February 2 to March 16 2013, in which England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy will participate.

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