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Rugby to test using 'smart' balls to help referees

Official match balls are seen in the pitch prior to the Six Nations rugby union international tournament match. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - Rugby will test using data from “smart” balls to assist match officials at the upcoming Under-20 World Cup in South Africa in June and July.

The balls, which were introduced in some matches last year, have technology inside which communicates data with beacons around the field.

The technology, said World Rugby in a statement on Wednesday, will “determine the exact position of the ball up to 20 times per second and provide immediate feedback on every kick, pass and throw.”

In South Africa, the technology will be used by replay officials to identify forward passes, whether the ball crossed the try line, where it crossed the touchline, when it was touched in flight and if a throw-in was straight.

“A direct feed will be made available to the Television Match Official, who will be able to use the information to provide feedback to the referee,” said the statement.

The technology will not be used at the 2023 World Cup in France in September and October, World Rugby said.

“A fast game is a good game, and it is right that we explore technology that has the potential to help aid the flow of the game, reduce stoppage time and speed up match official decision-making,” said World Rugby director of rugby Phil Davies. AFP