Women's Six Nations trialling 'smart ball'

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LONDON (Reuters) - While probably of little comfort to Scotland's players, every movement of the ball during last week's Women's Six Nations thrashing at the hands of England was electronically tracked.

The match at Doncaster was the first in international tests to use 'smart ball technology' -- allowing precise measurements of every pass, kick and the total distance the ball travelled.

For the record the ball clocked up 3,490 metres with the longest pass being 13.7 metres and the fastest pass measured at 27.2 mph. The most important statistic, as far as England were concerned, was that they won the game 52-10.

The Gilbert x Sportable smart ball, which has a microchip embedded within it, will feature in further trials during the 2021 Championship, organisers said on Friday.

"The new technology will provide a completely new perspective on player skill and decision making by providing key analysis on the speed of passes, hang-time of box kicks, restarts and distances of kicks," a statement said.

"The aim of this additional insight is to provide coaches and players with an empirical tool to track and develop individual technical skill sets."

While the data is currently being compiled and handed to coaching staff, further trials of the smart ball could provide on-screen graphics for television viewers.

Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby, said it was an "exciting" development for the game.

"We are constantly looking to break boundaries, take rugby to new levels and introduce innovative tools which we believe will enhance the development of the game as a whole and allow players and coaches to dial into intricate analysis," he said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)