How Accenture is changing the way we experience rugby

Credit: Craig Watson -

HOW sports fans watch and follow their chosen sport has changed dramatically in recent decades. Digital and interactive technology innovations allow fans to access information that was once only available to the television networks. The RSB 6 Nations is European rugby’s most prestigious tournament and since 2012 Accenture has been evolving its own digital solutions to help fans have a greater understanding of the matches.

In a statement on the official RBS 6 Nations site, the app is described as providing “the highest quality of data [and] innovative digital solutions from some of the best minds in rugby” meaning that “the Accenture Analysis Team helps fans to see beyond the standard match stats.” The data, 28.5 million rows in 2016, is computed and explained by experts including former players Nick Mallet, Ben Kay and Gordon D’Arcy (who joined this year). The Accenture RBS 6 Nations app is available for iOS, Apple Watch, Android and Kindle Fire.

The data is available on the Accenture Rugby site and adds an extra layer of information that a fan watching the match live will not pick up. An example of this is to look at the England versus Scotland match that ended with England winning the tournament. The page informs viewers of win ratios, driving maul averages, and front-row comparisons using easy to understand infographics. The data can break down every aspect of the game to give the fan a clear understanding of not only what is happening but why.

Such has the success been in developing the technology that Nick Millman, managing director of Accenture Analytics, believes the app can be transferred to business. Before the 2017 tournament started he told Marketing Dive website: “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.”

Combining sport and technology has been used by many businesses to cater to customers and sports fans. Gaming site Spin Genie regularly combines popular sports with their games, like Cricket Star, to bring two sets of fans together. The UK-based company aren’t the first gaming giant to do so, and it is fairly common now to see the likes of rugby and cricket games launched on an array of tech devices and platforms for their fanbase to enjoy. Accenture’s app is also designed to appeal to different sets of sports fans, those who watch the game as purely a spectator sport and those who like to analyse the game to understand it better.

Last year Accenture took its programme even further by adding a VR experience. According to Computer Weekly, the “VR user will interact with players on a virtual pitch, seeing team and player-level analytics from the dashboard.” This is then beamed to the onlooker’s screens over the top of the physical world. Computer Weekly informs that in 2016 there was 3.9 million downloads across 200 nations. Users can change the language to French and Italian ensuring that every fan watching the tournament is covered. The appetite for highly detailed analysis shows that there is a demand in evolving how rugby is experienced.

About David Barnes 4011 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.