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Accenture revs up Six Nations analytics programme with rugby stalwarts and VR

Rugby experts Nick Mallett, Ben Kay and David Flatman join the data analysts for the 2016 championship, and virtual reality will play a part

Accenture’s data analytics programme for the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship is stepping up a level for this year’s tournament, which starts this weekend.

Rugby experts Nick Mallett, Ben Kay and David Flatman are joining the data analysts, and virtual reality technology will also play a part.

Nick Mallett, former head coach of the Italy and South Africa national rugby union teams, is rejoining the analysis team. He will be partnered, this time around, by former England players Ben Kay and David Flatman.

Mallett, as coach of the South African Springboks, recorded 17 successive Test wins, an unbeaten Tri-Nations Championship triumph in 1998, and took the team to the semi-finals of the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

The analysis team is set to provide a data-driven perspective on all the games in the RBS Six Nations.

Mallett said: “The importance of data in sport has been growing steadily for well over a decade, with coaches all around the world seeking to gain even the smallest advantage on the field. Working alongside me, Ben and David, Accenture’s analysis team will help develop insights that are usually the reserve of top-level coaches.

“I believe that by utilising the smartest analysis, Accenture’s analytics tools and indexes, overlaid with human insight, we will help fans to see beyond the surface of the game.”

Nick Millman, Accenture’s managing director, big data and analytics delivery lead for Europe, Africa and Latin America, said: “Bringing Ben Kay and David Flatman onto the team to supplement Nick Mallett’s extensive international rugby experience will ensure the analysis team has the very best rugby knowledge to sit alongside our technical expertise.

“Our team will study two million rows of data per game using Accenture analytics tools to provide fans with insights that not only help them see the game in a new way, but also enrich their RBS Six Nations experience for what is shaping up to be a very exciting championship.”

This is the fifth year that Accenture has been the official technology partner for the Six Nations. It provides the technology behind the mobile app for the tournament.

This year it has developed a virtual reality experience on an Oculus Rift beta virtual reality headset and development kit. This allows users to immerse themselves in the rugby environment by placing existing reality into virtual reality, says the firm.

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Ben Kay, in holographic form, acts as a guide in the virtual environment, giving analysis of footage of games that appears on a big screen inside the demo.

“Virtual reality is an amazing experience, and it’s one that a wide variety of industries could explore to create new and exciting opportunities,” said Millman.

“In this proof of concept, we have used analytics and overlaid visualisations of the insights onto a virtual reality environment. It is a prototype to show the art of the possible for how people could consume analytics other than statically looking at a screen or a piece of paper. It’s about bringing context to the numbers.

“So, for example, we could create realistic training scenarios for hazardous work environments, test customer experience in different locations, or explore and detect patterns in big data using 3D imagery.” 

Of the Six Nations analysis programme itself, Millman added: “We are getting the data from the tournament itself. We don’t get access to the individual international teams, who, of course, are collecting their own data and player biometrics to do their own performance tuning. What we’re doing is more analogous to the customer engagement and insight that we are doing for our clients.”

The data insights from Accenture’s analysis team will be published via the Accenture Twitter feed @AccentureRugby and hosted on

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