Six Nations Rugby, the organizer of the prestigious international rugby union tournament, has today (October 18) announced new partnerships with business management solutions company Sage and sports technology and data science firm Sportable.

Sage will become the official insights partner of Six Nations Rugby in a tie-up that will span the upcoming Autumn Nations Series and the men’s and women’s Six Nations next year.

The firm will provide rugby fans with “greater insights” into the game through real-time data and analytics captured through smart ball technology and advanced predictive analytics.

The 2022 Autumn Nations Series kicks off on October 29 when Scotland host Australia and will be the first time Sage uses the smart ball data and presents its insight to fans in a Six Nations Rugby competition.

Six Nations Rugby said the partnership with Sage will enable all participating unions, coaches, and players “valuable insights to aid performance and on-field decision-making.”

Ben Morel, chief executive of Six Nations Rugby, said: “We are a fan-focused organization, working in collaboration with each union, federation, and partner to deliver truly unmissable experiences. The partnership with Sage is incredibly exciting for everyone involved, as they share a desire to enhance the experience for audiences, and ultimately bring even more fans into the game. 

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“To offer fans even greater data and insight from the on-field action through innovative broadcast and social presentation is going to be another important step in ensuring we are offering the best possible experience for the audience, as well as supporting the teams on and off the field.”

Sage recently signed its first sports partnership deal in North America with Major League Baseball, which followed previous agreements to sponsor The Hundred, the short-format domestic competition in England and Wales, and the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Meanwhile, through a multi-year deal with Six Nations Rugby, Sportable’s Smart Rugby Ball will be used in the aforementioned competitions to provide data and insights.

The two parties said the collaboration is centered around “unlocking deep performance and fan engagement insights” from the smart rugby ball, which communicates with wireless beacons around the pitch.

Augmented reality graphics will be powered by on-screen real-time match stats such as kick distance, pass distance, and territory gained and will be presented across broadcast and Six Nations digital channels.

The tie-up will see the ball used by 14 different nations in over 100 test matches.

The Smart Rugby Ball, developed in partnership with sports equipment brand Gilbert, was introduced in English rugby union over the summer, with the Premiership Rugby Cup becoming the first professional northern hemisphere competition to trial it in the country.

Sportable also partnered with the Rugby Australia national governing body to implement its ball-track technology during the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Gilbert already has long-term partnerships as the official ball supplier of each of the competing unions in the aforementioned tournaments.

Dugald Macdonald, Sportable founder and chief executive, said: “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 the Six Nations and their member unions is 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, its 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.”