The 2022 Autumn Nations Series, which kicks off between Scotland and Australia on Saturday 29 October will mark the start of a multi-year collaboration between Six Nations Rugby and UK based sports technology and data science business Sportable. 

This exciting new collaboration is centred around unlocking deep performance and fan engagement insights from the Smart Rugby Ball – which communicates with wireless beacons around the pitch - across all Autumn Nations Series, Guinness Six Nations and TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship matches. Powerful augmented reality graphics will be powered by on-screen real-time match stats such as kick distance, pass distance and territory gained and presented across broadcast and Six Nations digital channels.

After a successful introduction of the Smart Rugby Ball at the highest level in Rugby Union over the summer, this collaboration represents a significant step forward for Six Nations as they continue to be at the forefront of innovation and is another big milestone in the growth of the Sportable technology.

Commentating on the announcement, Sportable Founder and CEO Dugald Macdonald said: 

 “We are extremely excited and proud to announce this landmark collaboration between Sportable and Six Nations. We have been hard at work over the past few years to bring a new level of innovation and insight into elite sport, to have an opportunity to bring that to life with a forward-thinking organisation like Six Nations and their member unions is truly exciting. 

Key to our involvement is the introduction of the Smart Rugby Ball, which is now firmly entrenched at the highest level of the game and offers deep new insights and enhanced value to Six Nations Rugby, their partners, participating teams and ultimately the fans. We are excited to see the Smart Rugby Ball data come to life across multiple platforms over the coming months and working with Six Nations to further advance our joint offering to teams and fans over years to come.” 

The Sportable Gilbert Smart Rugby Ball in the colours of each host nation for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series.

The world-first Smart Rugby Ball has been developed and refined by Sportable and Gilbert over the past 5 years and through this collaboration will be used by 14 different nations in over 100 test matches, opening up a wealth of new opportunities to understand the game for broadcasters, coaching and analytics, players and of course most importantly for fans through a range of additional activations. 

Richard Gray from Gilbert added: 

“Having been working exclusively with Sportable as our technology partners for over 5 years in the development of this revolutionary new ball, we are delighted that the Smart Rugby Ball has now been chosen by our partners at Six Nations to be used in the 2023 tournament. We are confident the real-time data from the ball that the Sportable system will deliver to the game in the years to come are exciting and wide-ranging – spanning across opportunities for improvement in performance, broadcasting, commercial and officiating. 

Gilbert already enjoy successful long- term partnerships as official ball supplier with each of the competing unions; so the agreement to introduce the new iNNOVO Smart Ball was relatively straightforward, as part of Gilbert’s normal 4 year launch cycle.” 

Commenting on the partnership, Julie Paterson, Director of Rugby at Six Nations Rugby concluded: 

“As a fan focussed organisation, Six Nations Rugby is constantly exploring opportunities to give fans the best possible experience through our Championships and events. The partnership with Sportable, and their smart ball technology is testament to this ambition. 

To be able to offer fans real time data and insight that can help bring to life the game in an innovative way, is going to be incredibly exciting, and everyone involved is looking forward to seeing this translate through our extensive international broadcast coverage. 

For the teams, players and coaches, the opportunity to provide them with a new strand of information offers the potential to support training through to on pitch decision making, which we are incredibly excited to
see develop. ”