BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Most South Africans know a lot about the sports man that we’ve come to know as Springboks. As the country celebrates the Rugby World cup victory, the glory will go to Siya Kolisi, Rassie Erasmus, Jacques Nienaber and other team mates. One of the few things that will not receive any mention is the technology that was also instrumental in providing all the intelligence for the winning team. Many South Africans have wondered about the small block on the Springboks jersey. Allow me to share the little understanding I have behind that major contributor to the Springboks performance.

We live in the age of data where information is everything. This is even more important in the sports sector to get an understanding of players performance and other variables. The Springboks team has embraced modern technology to gather data about the performance of each player. This information is used to make game decisions.

Some of this information is used during the game and also after the game. The small block on the Springboks jersey is known as the Apex device. It is a GPS wearable used in the world’s best leagues that meets standards for data accuracy, reliability, and consistency. Apex’s unique software includes the ability to monitor player and team demands specific to rugby. The innovative software has the ability to track every individual collision and analyse every scrum with impact timing differentials and return to feet statistics for each individual player within the scrum on top of all the standard metrics such as speed, distance, accelerations, decelerations. In simple terms, the Apex device collects data that is streamed to the team management. This is done during the game and empowers the coach and advisors to make live game decisions. In developing technology solutions for the team, Springboks has partnered with various technology companies. Some of them are local and some are global companies.

We have a lot to learn from the way the Springboks team has used technology. Individuals and businesses can derive critical lessons that can be used to improve performance. Using technology to gather information about our health is one of the key lessons. Smart wearable devices such as smart watches can enable us to study our sleeping patterns, heart condition and our general activity. At the end of the day they can provide us with information that we can use when there’s a need. Sometimes they can warn us about imminent health issues. We need to start sharing data and information collected from our smart watches to assist with the healthcare process. This needs to be done in a responsible manner that respects data privacy standards. Businesses can also learn a lot from the Springboks implementation of technology. Businesses can learn that technology can be a companion. It’s not always necessary to take the approach that seeks to replace human beings with technology. The Springboks have shown that technology can work with humans to achieve desired results. Data sourced from technology devices can be used to inform decisions to improve performance.

There’s no doubt that the Springboks have inspired a nation. Their use of technology will probably inspire other sport teams to use technology to improve their performance. Don’t be surprised to see most sports clubs starting to use the block device on their jerseys to gather data about players. Let’s just hope that the reliance on technology will be balanced to enable the enjoyment of sports and other activities.