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IBM Analytics and Big Data for Rugby Football Union

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) have announced a strategic five year agreement. The announcement was made Thursday, Jan. 31.

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.

In a first for rugby, IBM’s Predictive Analytics software will analyze 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.

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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 analyzed by IBM, before being hosted on RFU.com.

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.

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It will also determine the match’s ‘Key Influencers’ by analyzing 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 organization to communicate with supporters and participants in a more personalized way, says IBM.

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