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Scottish Rugby Banking on VR Technology to Enhance Experiences

A soon-to-be-launched virtual reality experience is set to equip Scottish Rugby with next-level capabilities in terms of technological support. It will also give fans the opportunity to closely experience rugby at the highest level. Scottish Rugby is looking towards virtual reality (VR) for generating this next-level experiences.

The experience has been formed with a remote-controlled, gyroscopically-stabilised, 360-degree robotic camera system capable of travelling at the speeds identical to players sprinting, whilst the haptic suit facilitates realistic touches, hits, and glances in training. The audio features let players feel like they are within a game.

Gavin Vaughan, the lead performance analyst of Scottish Rugby, has analysed rugby teams across the globe, along with various teams from sports disciplines like the NBA. Vaughan has had close involvement in developing this new VR technology in association with BT. He is convinced that Scottish Rugby will gain a definite and distinct upper hand when it gets access to the equipment.

Showing the haptic suit and VR technology. Image source: dailyrecord

He remarked that player training is captured already, enabling them to obtain close-up, head-on and wide angles, which are generally not seen on television screens. Vaughan further revealed that the sports authority also has drones. Yet, Vaughan acknowledged how VR technology has helped to create a different viewpoint on training and how things change instantly. He also acknowledged the importance of associating with BT, as his organisation alone would not be able to create the solution.

According to Vaughan, the technology can be a prospective game-changer as far as coaching goes, and could change situations dynamically in the long run. He said that this technology being seen in rugby for the first time is encouraging.

To start with, BT had developed the VR technology for enhancing fan experiences of watching the game. Its objective was to create a scenario where putting on the headset and the haptic suit would give the fans a new kind of experience. However, it became evident that the topmost coaches and players could also reap benefits from the very same technology.

The Scottish Rugby team training. Image source: glasgowtimes

Matt Stevenson, Head of Brand at BT, remarked that the system was developed to move fans nearer to the action and to facilitate experiences they had not been a part of before. Following discussions with Scottish Rugby, it was clear that the VR offering could be utilised for the players.

Stevenson emphasised that BT has been closely involved with Scottish Rugby for the past 4 to 5 years, and was keen on helping game performance. Collaborations followed with BT first observing how analytics and coaching could be enhanced with the technology, and how it would bring the fans in greater proximity to the game.

Taking a look at the technology from the players’ perspectives, training particular game aspects without suffering physical wear and tear of contact sessions was vital. Huw Jones, Scotland and Glasgow Warriors centre, expressed that training with the feature was intriguing, as he could observe the training from the VR point of view. He considers the virtual reality feature as a convenient tool for players to train themselves.

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