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How Rugby World Cup teams are using Big Data Analytics to gain the advantage

While the Rugby World Cup may be over for England, everyone in the techUK office sweepstake is watching closely to see which team will lift the Webb Ellis Cup on 31st October.

It may be that the answer to who will win the World Cup may in fact lie in which team is able to unlock the insights and knowledge hidden within the vast amounts of data collected during the tournament. For example, data on players speed and agility gained from the GPS trackers built into players shirts, Hawk Eye data collected from the pitch during matches and historical data on teams past performances. While sports teams have always collected stats and data on player's health, injuries and performance, what makes the 2015 Rugby World Cup different is the significant increase in the data being captured in real time and made available to teams. Big Data technologies are playing a key role in enabling multiple data sources collected during the tournament to be combined, analysed and made available in real time.

However, the ability to capture and combine structured and unstructured data on a team's performance during a crucial game is only part of the story of how Big Data technologies are being used in the World Cup. Visualisation tools and technologies means teams can better understand what the data is actually telling them. The ability to gain real time insights and knowledge from data means teams are in a position to make actionable decisions that may change the course and, possibly, the result of a crucial game.

Sue Daley, Head of Big Data, Cloud and Mobile believes lessons can be learnt from the way in which Big Data analytics are being used in the Rugby World Cup

"Even before the tournament kicked off some were already suggesting that the Rugby World Cup winner could already be predicted by applying data analytics to existing team performance data. When the time comes on the 31st October for the final game to be played, we may be able to see if this was indeed possible. But what is already clear is that organisations in other sectors can learn from how sports teams are using Big Data technologies such as visualisation, to gain real time operational insights from data and make crucial decisions in real time in order to gain a competitive advantage."

On 18th October Sue Daley, Head of Big Data, Cloud and Mobile will be taking part in the Battle of Ideas Festival debate exploring the role of Big Data in sport. The debate titled "Moneyball or Mourinho: Is sport seeing a big data revolution?" will explore issues including whether the rise of Big Data in sport is replacing the experience and personality of successful coaches, like Jose Mourinho, with the judgement of the data analyst.

Take a look at how Big Data technologies are already being used in the exciting US sport of Nascar racing.

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