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A goal for technology in rugby

How sports tech can deliver for rugby fans

How can technology raise entertainment levels for the next generation of live sports fans? With a strong passion for rugby, our two colleagues from the UK and Japan are well placed to give their views.

Capgemini’s partnership with World Rugby and the Rugby World Cup has already brought about many innovative developments, including match analysis powered by data science and even video game design. Powered by the talents of Capgemini colleagues, all the initiatives share a goal: to improve the experience for everyone in the game, players and fans alike, now and into the future.

Engaging the audiences of tomorrow is a key aspect in securing the future of the sport, and in doing so, the role of technology is pivotal in how it can connect fans around the world, deepen their understanding of rugby, and add to the excitement of live action.

Rugby at Capgemini

Charlie Boyns is a Senior Management Consultant at Capgemini Invent in London and the captain of Capgemini’s UK rugby team. His connection with rugby runs deep. He played the game as a schoolboy before going on to captain his university’s law society’s rugby team. At Capgemini, he has spent the past five years building rugby’s presence within the organization across the UK.  

“When I first joined, Capgemini didn’t really have a UK rugby team,” he says. “I set about building a team and organized a fixture against the French team, which is well-established. They then invited us out to play at the pitch named after Capgemini founder Serge Kampf in Grenoble. Serge was a lifelong rugby fan, and Capgemini’s longstanding sponsorship of rugby starts with his work and vision.”

Charlie is now central to the company’s direction on rugby in the UK, and his own work to develop the sport at Capgemini continues. He is currently driving a cross-learning partnership with Harlequins Women.

“We’ve played at the French international team’s training ground, which was truly an amazing experience. We have also played at the Twickenham Stoop, home to Harlequins rugby team. Next up is a trip to Paris for Capgemini’s internal International Rugby Cup, and I’ve been invited to go to Mumbai in India to help train our Indian rugby team. I guess these are some of the benefits of working for a global company.”

Adding to the live experience

Charlie says that, as a spectator, technology can offer a “next level of detail and insight” into the players on the pitch and how well they are performing.

“I read in Capgemini’s recent report that 69% of fans prefer to watch sport outside a venue, rather than in a stadium. Attending sports games is something that people do for a one-off, big event. The rest of the time people watch sport via a screen. I wonder how we turn this around.

“Of course, going to watch rugby can be expensive. Watching at home is cheaper and more practical. But if we want to protect revenues in live sport in the future, we need to look at how live sport can reinvent itself as an attractive destination. At Capgemini, we have already supported World Rugby by providing live analysis of game phases and players. This kind of data can help bring the live experience to life.”

Connecting audiences

Takashi Ushijima is an associate consultant in the SAP practice at Capgemini in Japan. He started playing rugby at university and says technology has already helped bring rugby to a wider audience in the country.

“Rugby was never a big sport in Japan. But what technology offers in how we watch sport has really made a difference. For first-timers or general sports fans, tech helps them understand the game and what’s happening on the field. But it has also helped connect a global community of rugby fans.

“For example, with language barriers, translation tools have really helped with international communication between rugby fans. It brings different countries and different cultures together. It’s about connectivity. We can connect with anyone around the world while we are watching a rugby game. That’s something I really enjoy.”

Power of community

For Takashi, the power of rugby to connect diverse communities around a shared passion also reflects the values of life at Capgemini.

“With a player like Japan’s captain Michael Leitch, who was born in New Zealand and has represented the Japanese team in multiple World Cups, I think you can see the benefits of diversity.

“Capgemini is very diverse. In our Japan office, we have people from many different backgrounds and as many as 25 different countries working together every day. It brings a different approach and different mindset – one where, like in a rugby team, you all combine to make something even better.”

Takashi says that meeting a Japan rugby legend, via a Capgemini event, demonstrated the connections between rugby and Capgemini’s values.

“We had a Rugby World Cup planning event and I got to meet Daisuke Ohata, a player who’s in the World Rugby Hall of Fame. He talked about how rugby showed him how to control what he can do, but also understand what he can’t, and how to overcome challenges or change the environment to improve himself every day. I think that’s an attitude we can all learn from.”

Bringing the “wow factor”

That open and pragmatic attitude is also one that, for Charlie, can inspire innovation in sports technology. “It’s about having some blue-sky thinking around how we access and present data across the pitch. Who was the fastest player? What was their top speed? What was the biggest collision of the game? When fans see these types of statistics flash up on a screen, it generates a point of discussion. It’s the kind of talking point and excitement that really brings the game to life, and that can only be good for the future of the sport.”

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World Rugby

We are the first Worldwide Partner to sponsor both World Rugby (as Digital Transformation Partner and Global Partner of Women in Rugby)