The long-awaited 2023 Rugby World Cup starts in earnest on September 8th, 2023, when host nation France take on three-time winners New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
Quite aside from the on-pitch action, RWC23 promises to be one of the best and most immersive sporting events in recent times, with a clear emphasis being placed on support engagement, sustainability and the technology that underpins the event.
In total, France 2023 has presented 15 innovative projects, with a view to creating positive action and a truly seminal experience for fans from across the globe. This will create a truly unique sports viewing experience, and one that will blaze a trail for other similar World Cups in the future.
In this post, I’ll take a closer look at this tournament, while exploring the technological advancements and innovations that will underpin its organisation.
The France RWC 2023 – And the Technology That Will Support The Event
The core strategic objective of the RWC in 2023 is to raise existing standards for international sporting events, particular in the fields of social responsibility, sustainable development and inclusion (the latter of which is crucial to driving engagement and future participation in the sport).
Four key engagements have already been undertaken, with the announced projects aimed that supporting a circular and sustainable economy while reducing the impact that the event has on the natural environment.
Of course, technology will contribute to the accomplishment of these projects and the tournament’s organization as a whole. Here are four specific ways and innovations to keep in mind:
#1. The Use Of Wireless Communication To Track Matches As they Unfold
The widespread rollout and maturity of 5G technology has gradually become a key feature of sporting events, and the RWC 2023 will be no exception to this rule.
Due to the technology’s low latency levels and relative reliability, 5G connectivity enables fans who follow action elsewhere on their smartphones while attending matches in-person, which is particularly useful during the group stages when games can clash.
The result of these matches may also impact on the nation you support, so tracking the action can add to a more enriched and fulfilling experience.
#2. Pinpointing Waste And Cleaning Up After Sporting Events
While 5G also has a relatively low environmental impact, there are actually location-based technologies that can actively collate relevant data to help clean up more efficiently after individual games and sporting events as a whole.
Location-based technologies, which combine everything from IoT sensors to GPS, are becoming increasingly embedded within the developed world’s infrastructure, with the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 utilizing sensor-driven data to help pinpoint waste and even monitor real-time air quality throughout.
#3. Deploying Augmented and Virtual Reality
The Commonwealth Games also successfully leveraged augmented and virtual reality, primarily to create unique and immersive experiences that celebrated the culture of the host city and country.
This touches on the fact that the fact that visiting rugby fans will also spend money when visiting other parts of France during the Rugby World Cup, so creating opportunities to virtually explore locations can create a more enriching travel experience overall.
This also contributes to much deeper levels of audience engagement, which is a key goal of the RWC in France and will dominate the minds of major event organizers going forward.
#4. Smart Balls for Better Officiating
Of course, on-field tech also has a massive impact on the tournament and the level of enjoyment experienced by fans.
So, it’s interesting to note that World Rugby is collaborating with Sportable and Gilbert to create a so-called “smart ball”, which is currently being trailed and may be used for real during the 2023 RWC.
This “smart ball” is tracked in 3D and real-time, with multiple beacons located around the pitch to determine the precise position of the ball up to 20 times per second.
It can therefore provide accurate feedback in real-time, helping to immediately identify forward passes, the precise location where a lineout should be taken from and whether the ball was touched in flight (usually by an opponent).
This can aid quicker and more accurate in-game decisions, improving the flow of matches while avoiding significant controversies.
The Last Word
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be a global sports tournament unlike any other, with unique focus on fan engagement, sustainability and leveraging technology to improve the overall experience.
Make no mistake; technology and innovation will play a critical role in delivering all RWC23 projects, as we prepare for a tournament that will be fascinating to watch both on and off the field.