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Ricoh Rugby Change Series analyses key trends and changes shaping the modern game

Ricoh Change Series

Global technology company, Ricoh has today launched their new Ricoh Rugby Change Series campaign, which aims to identify and analyse the major changes in rugby that have occurred over the years; both in terms of the players and behind the scenes strategy as well as how spectators view and consume the game.

As part of the Ricoh Rugby Change Series, the company has commissioned a study using statistics and data provided by Opta and consulting with lead statistician Stuart Farmer. Findings from the study have identified six key areas of the game which have seen significant change; kicking, gameplay, laws, technology and strategy, physicality (focusing on training and recovery) and finally professionalism.

To watch the film click here

Findings have revealed, the drop goal, once an integral and game-changing tactic, has diminished in the modern game, with only 4 successfully kicked in 135 games last year compared to 73 in the 2001-02 season. The reason, Mark McCall (Director of Rugby at Saracens) suspects is due to a lack of practice in training, which echoes further findings that suggest success rates of drop goals have decreased dramatically from 32% in 2011-12 season to just 15% last season.

The study also highlights the physicality of the modern game, with all players completing more actions and committing to more tackles. Forwards, in particular hookers, have seen the greatest rise, as they now complete 4.8 actions more than they did five years ago; an increase of 50 per cent. The increased physicality of the game has brought with it the transformation of the players as well as their expected workload.

It is not just the players who are transforming, but the game itself. Rugby is now more professional, better funded and more popular than ever before, with stadium attendance doubling since the millennium and TV audiences growing by 25% in the UK between 2010/11 and 2015/16. But has this impacted how the game is played? Findings suggest that coaches want to be more adventurous; keeping the ball in hand rather than kicking it for territory. This mirrors findings that reveal the number of tries has noticeably increased and are at their highest since the millennium; 4.7 tries per game.

To complement the study launched on November 24th and further explain and enhance its findings, the Ricoh Rugby Change Series will roll out six further films across the season. These will provide an inside perspective from players, coaches and other stakeholders to illustrate that the changes identified have not just spurred on the evolution of the professional game but have significantly improved it.

To view the full report, please visit: www.ricoh.co.uk/rugbychange

Chas Moloney, Marketing Director for Ricoh UK & Ireland, commented: ‘We’re incredibly excited to launch this campaign and give fans a real insight into the changes which have shaped the modern game. The need for transformation and evolution is apparent not just in business but also the world of sport and we, at Ricoh, feel privileged to be able to transfer what we do as a business to the game of rugby, offering fans a new perspective on the game they love.’

‘We all know that rugby as a sport has been through considerable change over the years, but until now no one has been able to deliver a thorough report on what these major trends are in Premiership Rugby; and support their claims with hard stats and data. I believe that Ricoh Rugby Change Series will provide our fans with unique insight into the evolution of our sport, with some of the outcomes likely to surprise even the most cognisant followers of the domestic competition. From Premiership Rugby’s perspective, it’s great to be working with our partner to deliver this campaign and see their commitment to the game we all love,’ said Phil Winstanley, the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby

Ben Kay, Ricoh ambassador, added: ‘It’s great to see Ricoh giving something back to the fans and showing just how far the game has come. I have certainly experienced the many changes rugby has undergone as a professional player, but also from different perspectives: working alongside the media and as a spectator. As coaches and fans demand more and more from their teams, it’s exciting to think what will happen next but one thing’s for sure – the future of rugby looks extremely bright.’

‘Some of the changes that our sport has been through can be difficult to see and fully understand, and it’s great to be a part of a campaign that aims to showcase why these trends have become apparent and explain the reasons behind them. I’m looking forward to the next stage of the Ricoh Rugby Change Series and finding out about each topic in more detail,’ commented Maro Itoje, Ricoh ambassador.

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