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Jerome Chavoix
Jul 18, 2023

Data and AI are redefining both the broadcasting of rugby matches and the game itself – revolutionizing the fan experience, improving athlete performance, and developing women’s sports in the process.

To take the pulse of this ongoing revolution, the Capgemini Research Institute has published the second edition of its report, A whole new ball game: Why sports tech is a game changer.

Does this mean that sport comes down to mathematics? What we can say for certain is that, for several years now, technology has been making inroads into all sports, for professionals and fans alike. The Capgemini Research Institute’s 2023 report, A whole new ball game: Why sports tech is a game changer, even underlines, with figures to back it up, that tech is transforming the experience of players and fans alike, both inside and outside stadiums. As a partner of World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, Capgemini supports the organization’s digital transformation, enabling it to benefit from the latest technological innovations.

#1: Technology for improved performance

In rugby, as in other sports, digital technology is already improving the game and individual team performance with advances like body sensors to record players’ physiological data and game statistics transmitted in real time to coaches and television viewers. Today, thanks to new sources of data, but also artificial intelligence, data processing is becoming much more precise, refining the feedback of information in real time and even enabling predictions to be made. Clothing, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, virtual reality helmets, and connected mouthguards are tools that can be used to monitor players’ state of health, analyze playing technique, identify vulnerabilities, and even predict the outcome of a match.

Building on the Momentum Tracker solution, originally launched at the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai in 2020, we are now using artificial intelligence to measure the performance of men’s and women’s teams as well as their ability to improve during competition.

Momentum Tracker’s algorithm also provides each team’s coaching staff with reliable statistics on the performance of their opponents, enabling them to better guide their game strategy.

Data has also become an important management tool. It now lies at the heart of team management. In November 2022, the French Rugby Federation announced its partnership with an American data analytics company to bring together on a single platform the data collected over the last few years during international and top 14 matches. Still, this invaluable aid, which will be used by coaches to build their game strategy, does not replace the intuition and know-how of the experts who coach the French national team.

#2: Technology for better player health

Tech is also opening up new prospects for preventing injuries during games, which is of particular interest in contact sports such as rugby. Prevent Biometrics, an American company, has developed a connected mouthguard to capture the actual intensity of the impacts players undergo. All of this data, impossible to detect by human observation alone, enables players to be protected and for a library of data to be built up, with the aim of developing measures to protect and monitor players’ health. The system was tested by World Rugby at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021.

#3: Technology for an enhanced fan experience

Technology is revolutionizing the fan experience both inside and outside the stadium.

The Capgemini Research Institute’s report reveals that almost 7 out of 10 sports fans prefer to watch a sports match outside the stadium if tech sufficiently enhances the viewing experience. Better camera angles, better broadcast quality, real-time statistics, and immersive experiences have profoundly transformed the fan experience outside stadiums. As a result, the number of spectators in stadiums has tended to decline over the last three years. While major international competitions are still very popular, this trend has seriously affected lower-level events. Responding to the question, “Have you attended a match in a stadium in the last 12 months?”, only 37% of fans surveyed answered in the affirmative in 2023, compared with 80% in the last quarter of 2019.

In response to this trend, and with a view to democratizing rugby, Capgemini is supporting World Rugby by developing innovative statistics with three objectives in mind: to provide live analysis of game phases and players, to help players understand the often complex rules, and to gamify the experience. Relying on data and artificial intelligence, new predictive statistics are being developed – for example, the percentage chance of scoring a try in a given type of situation, or even real-time victory predictions.

As these three examples show, technology has become omnipresent in sport. However, it still faces certain limits.

In stadiums, although technology has enabled several improvements to the fan experience (video replay, online drink ordering, information on previous matches thanks to apps, etc.), its use is still limited. On the one hand, this is due to the lack of connectivity in today’s stadiums, and, on the other, because the fans who attend matches also, above all, come to enjoy an atmosphere, an experience, and emotions that the screen can’t match yet, or may even hinder. So, while technology continually improves the spectator experience as well as play, there are still issues and use cases to be addressed.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, which kicks off in September, will bring together fans from around the world, both at venues and on screens, to enjoy the game’s highest level of play, enabled by the most advanced technology. The tournament aims to offer spectators­ – veterans and novices alike – an unprecedented level of immersion during matches. I look forward to experiencing it.


Jerome Chavoix

Expert in Business Services
Jérôme has over 20 years of experience in business development and setting up major partnerships. In July 2018, he took over as the Head of Customer Engagement at Capgemini Invent in France, and is now in charge of the French team at frog, part of Capgemini Invent.