Box kicks will never be the same after smart ball technology pioneered in last weekend’s England versus Scotland Women’s Six Nations opener in Doncaster revealed a raft of statistics, including the hang time of kicks put up in the air. 

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The Gilbert x Sportable smart ball that was used in the match was embedded with a tiny tracking chip that captured every movement on the pitch in real-time as metrics were collected via sensors around the pitch.

A review of the data from the round one clash won by England revealed that the highest restart kick hang time was 3.5 seconds and the average was 3.2 secs. Other statistics were: longest clearance kick (43.2 metres), average clearance kick distance (31.2m), longest pass (13.7m), fastest pass (27.2mph), total distance travelled (3,490.8m), and total airtime (6 minutes 31 seconds).

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

The aim of the new technology is to provide a completely new perspective on player skill and decision making by providing analysis on the speed of pass, hang time of box kicks, restarts and distances of kicks.

While the initial trial will see the statistics collated for use by teams as part of their post-match review, Six Nations will eventually look to allow fans to watch matches with onscreen graphics showcasing the match data provided by this smart ball technology.

Six Nations CEO Ben Morel said: “Despite all the challenges of 2021 we have been delighted to introduce a series of firsts for this Women’s Six Nations Championship. We are constantly looking to break boundaries, take rugby to a new level and introduce innovative tools which we believe will enhance the development of the game as a whole and allow players and coaches to dial into the intricate analysis.”

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Sportable CEO Dugald Macdonald added: “It is fantastic to announce this innovation in the Women’s Six Nations Championship as it represents a big step forward in our goal to transform the way rugby is seen for both the fans and teams. Over the past six years, we and our partners Gilbert have developed technology that will transform the way people engage with sport. We are excited to see what the future holds for rugby and this prestigious competition.”

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