Rugby has long been one of the UK's major sports, with supporters flocking from all over the country to follow the home nations. The RBS Six Nations has always played a big part in attracting fans to the sport. In fact, it's never been more popular - as shown by the record breaking British TV audience of 9.63 million who saw England fall short on the final day of last year's tournament.
Tech's role in world rugby
Last year's World Cup eclipsed these figures due to the growing global appeal, with a worldwide audience of more than 25 million watching Japan beat Samoa. Consumers are so used to just pushing a few buttons and being able to watch their favourite sporting events, either on TV or online and how we consume sport will continue to evolve. I personally don't think it will be too long until it's socially acceptable to strap on Oculus Rift-style headgear and watch the rugby through virtual reality goggles.
Whether this becomes a reality or not, it's clear technology will remain front and centre in how people watch rugby. It's also having an ever-increasing role in the way the game is played. From the use of 'Television Match Officials' to make key decisions throughout a game, to medics having access to instant replays to evaluate potential injuries - technology is everywhere and even the purists have to agree it's for the best.
Unsung hero of sport
With the vast amount of technology surrounding us, it's easy to understand why consumers take it for granted. People are used to watching their favourite team at the click of a button, but there is unappreciated technology at play ensuring everything runs smoothly...
Data centres run in the background and make sure our favourite sporting events are available on any connected device, wherever we are. In fact, data centres are afforded so little fanfare, I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of consumers don't know what one is. Despite that, there's no doubt that without data centres, the world of sport as we know it would be completely different.
The reliance on data centres will continue to grow too, not only in rugby but all sporting arenas. From goal-line technology in football, to talk of GPS trackers on horses to enable in-depth analytics of each race, all of this relies on the work of data centres.
You may not realise it, but almost all technology we use is running in data centres which minimise the risks associated with collecting, processing, communicating and storing vast amounts of data - all of it being delivered in real-time. To ensure technology doesn't fall flat on its face whenever the demand peaks, data centres are designed so that any part of them failing or being taken out of service for maintenance is automatically covered by other parts so the consumer doesn't suffer downtime. With the vast range of connections, structures and backups which combine within data centres, providers are continuously asking "what happens if this element fails?" to guarantee consumers can continue enjoying the latest gadgets without interruption.
It's this responsibility which makes data centres so important in the digital age, as without them it's likely rare, high profile outages would happen much more frequently. So, when you're settling down to watch the final weekend of this year's RBS Six Nations on TV while keeping tabs on the football scores on your tablet, take a moment to think about the data centres silently ticking over in the background making it all possible.