IBM’s Live ‘TryTracker’ IS New RFU Online Insights Tool

IBM is leveraging its new five-year strategic partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as its official analytics partner by launching ‘TryTracker’.


This is a new data-led online insights tool not only provides ‘Keys To The Game’, play-by-play insights during games and analyses player-by-player performance, but it also employs predictive analytics to identify three key performance areas for each team which will determine the outcome of the match.



These may range from increasing the proportion of scrums won, or a higher conversion percentage rate. Thus, effectively it attempts to explain to rugby fans exactly what a team needs to do to increase the likelihood of a win against specific opponents (score more points than them one might imagine).


The platform also includes a live visual graphic feature to represent that all important, but often ethereal idea of ‘momentum’


Initially this real-time programme roll out to coincide with the start of the annual Six Nations tournament, but IBM plans to extend the tool to all other England international games.


Trytracker uses predictive analytics software based on historic and live rugby data to provide in-game stats. The data set is collected and provided by Opta (hich collects, packages and analyse more live sports data in greater detail than anyone else) for England internationals and this is then analysed by IBM software before being hosted live on RFU.com.


Trytracker can be accessed by all mobile devices and tablets.


The partnership agreement between IBM and the RFU also includes a customer relationship management (CRM) plan, which aims to enable the governing body to gain a better understanding of its own customers and of England rugby fans in general based on a wider spectator based data set.


The objective behind the aspect of the alliance is to help the rugby governing body to communicate with supporters and participants in a more personalised, engaging and effective way.


‘This important new long-term agreement will enable the RFU to give fans even more insight and understanding into what’s happening on the pitch and why, as well as ensuring we remain at the forefront of new technology to enrich the overall fan experience,’ explains RFU chief commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt.


‘In sport and business, data is a game changer, “says IBM Global Business services media and sports leader Martin Guillaume. ‘IBM is powering new consumer experiences with advanced real -time analytics. By doing this, we offer a new way to enjoy the game, by uncovering insights that matter, enhancing the fan experience and providing vital feedback to players and stakeholders.’




This five-year strategic partnership, announced at the beginning of 2013, is based on IBM’s expertise and the RFU’s content and customer base.


The aim is to provide fans with an enhanced live experience of the game itself and the governing body with insights and analytics to improve its offering to its audience (and maximise the value and engagement opportunities of the relationship). Although more of a fun gaming element might have further added to the tool.


Thus it is more of a contemporary and mutually beneficial brand alliance than an old school sponsorship.


Indeed, the background idea is that IBM’s analytics-driven relationship with the RFU will develop along similar lines as its long-running partnership with the All England Club at Wimbledon (and at other major tennis tournaments including The Australian Open and The US Open).


See previous case study


By providing real time insights directly to fans IBM is adding to a smarter and more rounded sports experience for those who choose to explore and utilise it.


This is yet another example of how sponsors, analytics outfits and sports brands are using big data to provide hidden insights.


Whether it will be a tactical benefit to the coaches too remains to be seen.


This IBM initiative can also be seen as part of a bigger, long term RFU push to raise the profile of the sport ahead of the England 2015 Rugby World Cup.


Indeed, a statement from the RFU at the tournament’s kickoff said:


‘The activations our partners are doing around this year’s tournament really set the tone for how we want to grow rugby in the UK ahead of the World Cup in 2015. Compared to other sports like football and the Premier League we’re not the most high-profile in the UK, which is why fan engagement is so important to our marketing strategy. This year is important for us and we’re looking to focus everything we do both as a brand and with our partners around how we can make rugby more accessible.’




TryTracker YouTube



IBM Sport & Business Website



RFU Website



Opta Website



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