Rugby Australia has partnered with UK-based media company Sportable which will bring innovative ball-tracking technology to the sport.

In a bid to bring fans closer to the action of Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific, the collaboration will begin at the Melbourne Rebels v Brumbies Round 4 match where the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Rugby Ball will be featured in all Australian derbies on the east coast across the remainder of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Rugby Australia CEO, Andy Marinos, commented: “We’re pleased to be able to partner with Sportable to bring this world-first innovation to Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific. Whilst the primary driver has been the high-performance data and information this produces, combining technology with live sport opens up many more opportunities down the line for a fully aligned and integrated data and analysis play that we are excited to explore with all our key stakeholders.

“What we have seen in the trial phase, this ball provides rich and valuable information that both coaches and players can utilise to drive improved outcomes. While this technology has been in development and testing for five years, this is the first time it will be used to its full potential in an elite, tier-one competition. 

“For rugby to be first to market with this product was important as we continue to work towards our goal in delivering the most engaging club competition in the world and this technology is another opportunity to bring fans closer to the action.”

Furthemore, the technology uses a combination of a microchipped ball and a series of beacons around the field, whilst the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Rugby Ball delivers insights on player skill across key areas of the game, tracked in 3D and real time to produce data on metrics such as hang time, distance, spin and speed.

Sportable Founder and CEO, Dugald Macdonald, added: “Super Rugby has always been a showcase of some of the best rugby in the world. We are very excited to have the opportunity to bring this exciting brand of rugby to life through new data and insights using the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball.

“The Smart Ball will provide fans and teams with a new understanding and appreciation of the skill of their favourite players and teams.”

In being named the world-first ‘Smart Rugby Ball’, the introduction was developed by Sportable and Gilbert in the aim of ‘opening up entirely new perspectives for broadcast, fans and performance analysis’.

Gilbert Australia Sales and Marketing Director, Nick Gray, concluded: “Gilbert is proud to be a part of this innovative step forward in World Rugby, with the Super Rugby Pacific series being the perfect place to activate the world’s smartest rugby ball.

“The ball has gone through rigorous testing ahead of the first match and we can’t wait to see it in action. “Gilbert has always been at the forefront of innovation since 1823, with the new Gilbert x Sportable Smart Rugby Ball, being the latest addition to the game.”

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