How technology has changed the way professional rugby is played

The way rugby is played, governed and even watched is something which is evolving all the time thanks to the latest in technological advances. Gaining increased television coverage has led to referees and match officials using the many cameras filming from every angle for their own benefit with the introduction of TMO.

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The Television Match Official (TMO) provides additional back-up to the decisions made on the pitch, or even reverses them, depending on what the footage shows when it’s played back. So the result of a match no longer lies with the decision of an official who may not have seen certain incidents or been aware of different occurrences.

TMO and Ref Cam

In addition to the TMO, there is also the ‘Ref Cam’, which sees the referees of modern-day rugby being fitted with small microphones to allow the audience the opportunity to hear what is both being said to the players on the pitch and the TMOs, who are usually located up in the standards. Beneficial for players as well as commentators, this technology is also backed up by a small camera fitted into the kit of the referees and match officials to also provide a bird’s eye view of what they see.

Not only have technological advances helped with the decision making process on the pitch, but they have also changed the way players train and types of rugby drill they use. The introduction of strength and conditioning coaches means that the players are in peak condition, whilst strict diet regulations provide the players with all the calories, nutrients and nourishment they need to perform at the top of their game. All of this is measured by GPS tracking devices, which allow the coaches to assess performance and highlight areas where improvements can be made. See for an overview of this.

Training and Playing Kits

Gone are the long baggy shirts, shorts and heavy leather boots, as they have now been replaced with materials made by cutting-edge gripper technology to aid the rugby player’s performance. There is a thermal layer that provides both cool and heat, depending on the temperature. The GPS trackers fitted into the back help coaches to train and analyse each game. Technology has also made the sport safer with the introduction of concussion management sensors for scrumcaps and muscle performance rugby socks.