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Ericsson and Vodafone help Irish rugby team adopt 5G technology to get fast in-play data analysis

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  • The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is adopting cutting-edge 5G Mobile Private Network (MPN) technology to increase the communication of performance data between coaches and players in preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2023
  • Ericsson and Vodafone have partnered to install the solution at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre, delivering advanced real-time video analysis to enable enhanced decision-making and deliver real time feedback to coaches, analysts and players
  • Technology has been tested in Ireland’s training camp and will be brought to France in a bespoke 5G connected vehicle for the World Cup in September
News
Aug 18, 2023
Ericsson and Vodafone help Irish rugby team adopt 5G technology to get fast in-play data analysis
Pictured left, Sinead Scully, Vodafone Ireland Head of Corporate Sales. Pictured right, Paul O’Connell, IRFU Assistant Coach. Pictured second right, John Griffin, Head of Ericsson Ireland.

Ericsson and Vodafone Ireland have partnered to install a cutting-edge 5G Standalone Mobile Private Network (MPN) solution for the Irish rugby team to supply fast and reliable in-play data analysis ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in September.

Previously the team relied on standard WiFi across stadiums and training facilities both at home and away. Now giving instant feedback on team plays and tactics, the 5G Standalone MPN solution and artificial intelligence technology ensures faster download and upload speeds and lower latency, which can be utilised for real-time performance analysis and decisions on the pitch.

Using this reliable connectivity, up to eight high-resolution video streams are captured by multiple cameras and a 5G connected drone and then analysed in real-time to collate data on team performance. The technology helps to improve the communication between management, coaches and players and maximises the time on pitch where the smallest tweak to a running line or defensive position, can have a significant impact on the weekend’s game.

Vodafone Ireland and Ericsson have worked closely with the IRFU and their Head of Analytics and Innovation, Vinny Hammond and his analysis team of John Buckley, Alan Walsh and Jack Hannon. This collaboration has led to a clear understanding of the specific performance outcomes sought by such an elite sports team and has supported the design and installation of the Ericsson Private 5G solution, which now enables the management team, coaches and players to feel the real benefit of instant feedback to enhance the ability to make decisions quickly.

The new solution has been tested at the Irish team’s High Performance Centre and will be brought to France in a bespoke 5G connected van for the World Cup in September.

Vodafone Ireland Network Director, Sheila Kavanagh says: “At Vodafone, we are so proud of our support for the Irish Rugby team, so we’re delighted to bring further value through the delivery of this cutting-edge technology solution. Performance analysis has experienced massive changes in the past couple of decades. What started with pen and paper-based methods for collecting notational data has evolved to using cutting-edge computer-based technologies and artificial intelligence to collect ever increasing amounts of real-time information. Distilling and delivering this data back to the team at top speed requires a reliable, secure and scalable connectivity solution.”

“This 5G MPN, drone and additional technology will support Vinny Hammond and his analytics team to quickly breakdown and organise unstructured data and present it back in a clear manner to other coaching staff and management – helping them understand the performance of the plays and overall team, without delay. It’s fantastic to see it in use in the HPC, but we’re also really excited to support the team with 5G connectivity throughout their time at the World Cup in France with our fully kitted Connected Van. Our 5G MPN technology is a demonstration of how technology and connectivity innovation can enhance the business of sport and the performance of teams, bringing added layers of data and analysis to coaches, management, and their players.” 

IRFU Head of Analytics and Innovation, Vinny Hammond says: “So much of our roles revolve around moving large quantities of data so we can analyse performance to understand what is working and what is not. Vodafone’s 5G MPN stretches the boundaries of what we can do in terms of how quickly we can analyse multiple high-resolution cameras and drone footage which ultimately informs our strategic decision making. The work John and Alan have done on this project in conjunction with Vodafone and Ericson has enabled us to push new boundaries at this years RWC. Being on our own 5G network also gives us that level of security and reliability that we really need, and we’ll have the added benefit of that connectivity with our 5G Connected Van, linking back to our High Performance centre, to reduce reliance on third party connectivity.”

John Griffin, Head of Ericsson Ireland, says: “5G is the ultimate platform of future innovation and our successful partnership with Vodafone continues to ensure new organisations like the IRFU can benefit from the low latency, high bandwidth, and secure connectivity of a 5G standalone private network. Our global leadership in 5G technology and accelerated software availability mean the IRFU will be one step ahead of their competitors on and off the field, giving them the best chance of success at an elite level of performance and revolutionizing the future of a key function within the sports industry.”