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The Rugby Football Union Boosts the Fan Experience with IBM Analytics and Big Data

  (January 31, 2013)

ARMONK, N.Y., Jan. 31,2013 /PRNewswire/ --The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a strategic five year agreement. As Official Analytics Partner for the RFU, IBM will implement a leading analytics solution to provide fans with real-time insights into the game, including information about individual performance by players the IBM TryTracker.


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In a first for rugby, IBM's Predictive Analytics software will analyse historic and current rugby data provided by Opta, the world's leading sports data provider, to provide valuable in-game stats. It will give viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game and explain what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of a team win against specific opponents.

The IBM TryTracker will include the 'Keys to the Game', to provide play-by-play insights during the game, and predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. For example, the system may predict that if a side hits their target in these aspects of their game then they are more likely to increase their chances of victory, for example the proportion of scrums won or rate of successful kicks. The data collected and provided by Opta for all England internationals is analysed by IBM, before being hosted on

In addition, the platform will feature a new way to represent 'Momentum', which depicts visual graphics of the match as it unfolds and identifies key moments, decisions and turning points based on every facet of the game. It will also determine the match's 'Key Influencers' by analysing every action of every player to reveal which three players are having the biggest positive impact on their team's overall performance. Results are based on position specific historical data, and will show the average performance of the player's teammates.

As well as providing the analytics for IBM TryTracker, the agreement also includes the implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) transformational plan for the RFU. Using IBM Analytics will allow the RFU to better understand information on rugby fans, their needs and preferences, to enable the organisation to communicate with supporters and participants in a more personalised way.

Sophie Goldschmidt, Chief Commercial Officer, RFU: "We're delighted to be working with a company of IBM's calibre. This important new long-term agreement will enable the RFU to give fans even more insight and understanding into what's happening on the pitch and why, as well as ensuring we remain at the forefront of new technology to enrich the overall fan experience. Our plans also involve utilising IBM's expertise to further benefit the grassroots game and enhance performance at the elite level."

"In sport and business, data is a game changer, "said Martin Guillaume, Media and Sports Leader for IBM Global Business Services UK and Ireland. "IBM is powering new consumer experiences with advanced real -time analytics. By doing this, we offer a new way to enjoy the game, by uncovering insights that matter, enhancing the fan experience and providing vital feedback to players and stakeholders."

This technology builds on what is already in use in well known global tennis tournaments such as Wimbledon, The Australian Open and The US Open. IBM is tapping the power of predictive analytics to help deliver insights into everything touching performance, sports injuries, key plays and more. By delivering these insights directly to fans, IBM is driving a smarter sporting experience, giving millions of rugby fans around the world the tools to a more enjoyable game.

The world of sports, and many sporting teams alike, are finding new ways to uncover hidden insights from Big Data to gain a competitive edge. Analytics continues to change how sport is being viewed and played, ensuring that fans have a complete interactive experience so they do not miss a moment.

The IBM TryTracker can be accessed by all mobile devices and tablets. The three Keys to the Game will be released every Thursday ahead of the weekend match day during the RBS 6 Nations tournament taking place from February 2 to March 16 2013, in which England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy will participate. The new platform is available at

This week's Keys to the Game are:

England Keys

  • Win more than 14 turnovers
  • Get more than 5 linebreaks
  • Achieve a successful goal kick percentage of more than 74%

Scotland Keys

  • Achieve a tackle success rate greater than 95%
  • Win more than 85% of own lineouts thrown
  • Have more than 6 attempts at goal

About the Rugby Football Union (RFU)
The Rugby Football Union is the National Governing Body for rugby union in England and supports participants and fans from the grassroots to the national team. For more information visit You can keep up to date with all RFU news on @Official_RFU

About IBM
Explore this site to learn about IBM's solutions and success stories, and how you can use data to make your business work smarter:

About Opta
Opta collect, package and analyse more live sports data in greater detail than anyone else. The level of detail we collect brings an added dimension to the world of sport. It allows for more innovative broadcast coverage, more engaging online and print reporting and more intelligent professional analysis.

More information

Media Contacts:

Emma Bennett
IBM Media Relations
+44 (0)7976 839109

Kristine Nalbone
IBM Media Relations

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