Accenture, the Official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations Rugby Championship, is bringing machine learning to international rugby. Its latest analytics dashboard will deliver improved player, match and Championship insight, which 20,000 people accessed via Twitter last year. Accenture has also developed an innovative mixed reality application for the Championship, using Virtual Reality (VR), with a twist. The one-person immersive VR experience is sharable, and broadcast as live action for others to watch.

Insights from the dashboard will be fed to the Accenture Analysis Team, made up of former players and coaches. Accenture Analytics applied Design Thinking to create a dashboard experience that users want, not simply a collection of stats. The latest data visualisation tools will help make the Analysis Team’s Championship commentary more informed and valuable for viewers. There is also a significant new development for this year: because players are not predictable, the dashboard now includes a stochastic layer. This ‘randomness engine’ uses machine learning to improve accuracy and depth of insights.

An experiential innovation has also been added this year: a new cinematic mixed reality (MR) experience. The Accenture Innovation Programme in London used cutting edge technologies from its green screen studio. Blending the physical and digital worlds, one individual’s Virtual Reality (VR) experience is broadcast to anybody watching. The VR user will interact with players on a virtual pitch, seeing team and player-level analytics from the dashboard. Onlookers will see the VR user in the context of the scene they are immersed in on the big screen, so that more people have the opportunity to be part of the virtual action, as it’s happening.

Paul Pierotti, Managing Director, Accenture Digital in Ireland, commented: “The RBS 6 Nations is the world’s greatest Championship and a landmark in both the Irish and European sporting calendars. It needs to deploy innovative technology to match. We’re bringing the latest Digital technologies to this year’s Championship to deliver new experiences with people as the focus. The innovations we’re making around the RBS 6 Nations are also applicable for businesses. Just as players are unpredictable, so are customers. It’s important for any entity – sporting, business or otherwise – to be agile and innovate constantly.”

To make the RBS 6 Nations more accessible, Accenture Mobility, part of Accenture Digital, will continue to power the Official Championship mobile app. During the last five RBS 6 Nations it received 3.9m downloads across 200 nations. It’s available for free download to Android, Kindle and iOS devices – including Apple Watch – in English, French and Italian. It integrates analytics insights from the Championship dashboard.

Unlocking new insights from world class rugby experts

The Accenture Analysis Team, which combines insights from rugby experts with Accenture’s data analysis, will include former Italy coach Nick Mallett, England World Cup winner Ben Kay and – new for 2017 – Irish rugby legend Gordon D’Arcy. Fans will be able to access the team’s analysis via Accenture’s dedicated rugby Twitter handle @AccentureRugby and website to find out how their favourite players performed, how their teams gained the edge in the match, or where they need to do better next time. Functions such as the ‘momentum tracker’ allow everyday fans to become expert analysts, to pinpoint the moments within a game that one team gained or lost the upper hand. Last year 20,000 people accessed this information via Twitter to enhance their experience of the Championship.

Nick Mallett commented in Accenture’s recent study See Beyond: Exploring digital innovations through the RBS 6 Nations; “Digital technologies are creating incredibly exciting experiences for fans, players and coaches alike. Virtual reality, for example, means fans can see what players see – a completely new perspective on the sport they love. As a sport, rugby’s getting faster all the time. But so is the development of digital technology and the advances we’re seeing are revolutionising how we watch – and take part in – the game.”

The RBS 6 Nations kicks off on February 4.

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