Smart ball technology is to be tested at the Rugby U20 World Championship.


World Rugby will trial the smart ball technology at next month’s Under-20 World Championship in South Africa.

World Rugby is trialling smart ball technology at next month’s Under-20 World Championship in South Africa, with officials reporting more accuracy on line-outs, possible forward passes and the ball crossing the try-line.

The smart ball is tracked in 3D and in real-time, with beacons around the field up to 20 times per second to determine the exact position of the ball and react quickly to every shot, pass and throw.

The technology ensures that the ball is off the line at the point where it leaves the field of play, and provides a quick response by measuring the angle from the ball leaving the line to the point of impact.

The ball is “touched in flight” – like a knock – and the live location of the ball measures the speed of the ball relative to the player as they leave their hands to aid forward passing decisions. Judge it has reached the triline.

A live feed is provided to the Television Match Official (TMO) who gives feedback to the referee.

Phil Davies, director of rugby at World Rugby, said the technology “has the potential to help the flow of the game, reduce stoppage time and speed up match official decisions”.

“Rugby refereeing is probably the most difficult refereeing job in sport,” Davies said. “There are a lot of decisions or decisions to be made at any given time and the growth of broadcasting and social media means that such decisions often spill over after the event.”

“The evolution of smartball technology opens the door to helping relevant authorities make the right decisions faster, avoiding issues and reducing the chance of error.”

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