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Accenture Brings Tech Into Rugby Scrum

Firm adds VR, machine learning elements to RBS 6 Nations Championship 1/30/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

For six years running, professional-services firm Accenture has been handling technology services for the 6 Nations Championship, Europe’s annual international rugby competition, an event that drew more than 125 million TV viewers in 2016.

 

In years past, that meant mobile app support and basic game and player analytics, but for the 2017 edition, Accenture is adding something new: machine learning.

 

GOING STOCHASTIC

 

Machine learning, simply defined as allowing a program or computer to process and learn from new information, is coming into play with London-based Accenture’s new analytics dashboard for the rugby competition.

 

The team, player and match data fed into the program will include a new “stochastic” engine, a layer of randomness that’s actually expected to improve the statistics and insights coming from otherwise unpredictable players and gameplay.

 

The data spit out of the dashboard covers everything from player performance to which stats gave a winning team the edge. About 20,000 rugby fans made use of the offering for the 2016 edition of the tourney, Accenture reported.

 

The upgraded 6 Nations Championship data analysis dashboard will be available via the company’s rugby Twitter handle (@AccentureRugby) and at accenture-rugby.com, for the duration of the tournament, beginning Feb. 4.

 

“The RBS [Royal Bank of Scotland] 6 Nations is the world’s greatest championship and a landmark in the European sporting calendar,” Nick Millman, managing director of Accenture Analytics, said in a statement. “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,” he added. “Just as players are unpredictable, so are customers. It’s important for any entity — sporting, business or otherwise — to be agile and innovate constantly.”

 

FIRST-PERSON PERSPECTIVE

 

Additionally, Accenture is creating a cinematic virtual reality experience for the event, one that allows users to either put themselves in a first-person perspective with a green-screen overlay of the action, or just simply watch someone else interact with players and the digital dashboard in the VR environment. Users in the first-person experience can choose to share their experience live, and the offering is available exclusively for the Oculus Rift.

 

“Digital technologies are creating incredibly exciting experiences for fans, players and coaches alike,” former Italy coach Nick Mallett said in a statement. “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 revolutionizing how we watch — and take part in — the game.”

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