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Major League Rugby teams up with Gilbert and Sportable for a first-of-its-kind tech integration in MLR

League continues push to bring innovation to American sports by featuring real-time data tracking inside game ball

 

DALLAS, TX (January 30, 2024) – Major League Rugby (MLR), which represents the highest level of rugby competition in North America, is pleased to officially announce Gilbert as the new official ball of the league. Additionally, thanks to a collaboration with Sportable, the leader in the development of wearable tracking technology and data analytics, each nationally broadcast game ball will be outfitted with a unique data tracking device that will measure speed, distance traveled and other unique metrics.

This partnership represents one of the first technology integrations between an official game ball and a data tracking device for a professional sports league in North America. The device will provide valuable information across various metrics in real time to offer a unique perspective that will aid media and broadcast partners in their match coverage – enhancing the experience for new and existing MLR fans.

“This partnership with Gilbert and Sportable further establishes Major League Rugby as a leader in American professional sports, demonstrating our commitment to unlocking the potential of technology in our matches,” said Nic Benson, CEO of MLR. “The Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball will provide unparalleled data findings in real time to deliver to our fans new engaging insights on the game, while holding future potential to enhance team training and referee assessments. We are thrilled that Major League Rugby is at the forefront of this movement.”

Sportable has had a strong focus on rugby as a growth sport, working with Gilbert to deploy the smart ball in Six Nations and Autumn Internationals, World Rugby U20 Championship and various summer test matches in Australia. Among the data points the ball can track are the speed of a pass, hang-time and distance of a kick as well as accuracy of kicks to touch and line out throws – essentially all of the key moments and skill executions that decide games. This data can be analyzed in real-time to provide teams with critical performance information, empower officials to make faster, more accurate decisions, while also deepening fan engagement across broadcast and various digital platforms.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Major League Rugby with the exciting introduction of the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball this season,” said Sportable CEO, Dugald Macdonald “The Smart Balls and associated analytics will bring a new level of innovation and insight for rugby fans and we’re proud to be taking that step with the MLR. Having successfully introduced the Smart Ball in leading leagues and tournaments around the world, it’s the right time for MLR and Sportable to join forces to bring new insights to such a data hungry fan base in the U.S.”

Gilbert is synonymous with the sport of rugby, serving as the official ball of both the Rugby World Cup and the game’s return to the Olympics. Founded in the 1800s, Gilbert remains a family-owned business in the United Kingdom and is the leader in the rugby market for apparel and equipment.

“Having been working exclusively with Sportable as our technology partners for over five years in the development of this revolutionary new ball, we are delighted that the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball has now been chosen to feature in Major League Rugby,” Gilbert Rugby Commercial CEO, Richard Gray added. “We look forward to bringing sports fans closer to the game with new exciting and engaging insights offered by the real-time data from the ball. We are pleased to support the continued growth of Rugby in the USA and help to engage new audiences as the game builds towards America hosting its first ever Rugby World Cup in 2031.“

This is the latest innovative trend from MLR as it seeks to grow the game of rugby in North America in advance of the 2031 Rugby World Cup. The league already is the only one in the U.S. that outfits its referees with microphones and has a dedicated live feed that captures full audio from each match. Earlier this year, MLR named Globant, a global technology leader, as an official partner, working with the company to overhaul and relaunch The Rugby Network, its OTT platform that streams league matches and other national and international rugby content.

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About Major League Rugby:

Major League Rugby is a professional sports league representing the highest level of rugby competition in North America. MLR prides itself in fostering intense, high-stakes competition while bringing together a passionate community built on the values of Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition. Matches are televised on Fox Sports, among other national and local market platforms, and its OTT Platform, The Rugby Network offers fans the ability to stream select MLR matches live, along with Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Allianz Women’s Premiership Rugby, and other international rugby content. For more information, visit www.Majorleague.Rugby and follow @USMLR on Twitter and Instagram.

 

About Sportable:

Sportable is a data and analytics company that leverages proprietary data collection hardware to deliver unique insights to the team sports ecosystem. Our portable ‘solution in a suitcase’ democratises high-speed, high-fidelity insights from ball and players tracking at all levels of the team sports pyramid, which in turn drives deeper fan engagement, gamifies player performance, and revolutionizes game dynamics – all while creating new revenue streams for teams, leagues, and their commercial partners.

 

About Gilbert Rugby:

Gilbert Rugby is the world’s longest serving rugby brand having supplied the rugby world since 1823, when William Gilbert was supplying the first balls to Rugby School that were famously picked up by William Webb Ellis for the first time. It remains a UK family run business at the heart of the game today; trusted by the Global rugby family to provide the best innovative products & support to enable players to perform to their full potential. Chosen by World Rugby’s unions and tournaments, Gilbert have supplied the highest quality balls to the Rugby World Cup since 1995, their unique record of innovation has long been recognised and firmly establishes Gilbert as the player’s preferred ball of choice. For more information visit www.gilbertrugby.com or follow Gilbert Rugby on social media

The post Major League Rugby teams up with Gilbert and Sportable for a first-of-its-kind tech integration in MLR appeared first on Major League Rugby.