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RWC2011 rugby app – worth a try



Numerous applications have been released to help follow the Rugby World Cup in new Zealand. SEAN BACHER finds the ideal application to keep you up to date with the progress of the Springboks.
When South Africa won the last Rugby World Cup in 2007, the only way fans could monitor what games were being played and when they were being played was via the Internet, local newspapers or on TV.

This meant one of three things: either you had to go and buy your local rag, log onto the Internet to check up on fixtures or rely on the TV news every time you wanted to be reminded of game times.

Fortunately, things have changed, especially with the evolution of the smartphone and, more to the point, the plethora of applications available for download. Many of these are a waste of time, but some are truly useful and make life a lot easier – or more enjoyable.

The Official Rugby World Cup 2011 App, developed by Ireland based IRFB Services in partnership with official sponsor Land Rover, appears to be a prime candidate for both of these roles. The app is available for Android devices, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and iPod. We put it through the Gadget Five Question User Test, using the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the Motorola Attrix, an Android phone.

1.              Is it ready to use?
Log onto any app store, search for the application and download. After downloading and installing, it’s ready to go. It doesn’t require any additional settings or configurations.

The basic functionality is much the same for both the BlackBerry and Android device, with the same icons appearing in the same places and performing the same tasks. However, on the BlackBerry we hit a snag. When you open the application, it connects to the BlackBerry Messenger server, or rather attempts to connect to the server. Every time the app was started up on the BlackBerry, an error appeared, saying the server was not available. But a click on the OK button dismissed the error message and beyond that point the application performed exactly as on the Android phone, with the same set of features and functions.

2.              Is it easy to use?
On the home screen you are presented with a range of icons – News, Match Centre, Videos, Teams, Tournaments and Fan Zones – which each requires a single click to open in a new screen. News pools all the news posted by the Rugby News Service. Select the news item you want to read and it is quickly downloaded and displayed for reading. A quick tap of the ‘Back’ button on both the Android and Blackberry returns you to the news items and another click of the ‘Back’ button returns you to the home screen.

The Match Centre displays the results of the games played, including match statistics such as ball possession, number of tries and substitutions. The Match Centre also displays games that will be played today as well as a full fixtures list. You are also told which pools the respective teams are in and their current International Rugby Board (IRB) world standing.

Videos gives you a list of video highlights from the various matches played, but each requires an additional video download – probably not included in unlimited BlackBerry Internet Service contracts.

The screen you will see when you click on the Videos tab

Teams takes you to all the team line-ups in the tournament. From here you can view images of all players, along with career details. For instance, selecting the Springbok logo, then selecting players and then Victor Matfield, shows what position he plays, when he was born, his weight, highlights of his rugby career and Rugby World Cup 2011 progress.

The screen you will see if you click on the Teams icon

This section also lets you check any team’s overall status, both during this World Cup and in general. You will also be able to view upcoming games for that team, with dates, times and venues.

The Tournaments option gives you an overview of how the tournament is progressing, showing you which pools the various teams are in, how many wins and losses each has scored and the total number of points accumulated. These details are updated as a match concludes.

Lastly, the Fan Zone option offers more information on New Zealand and the stadia, and offers links for booking tickets.

All in all, it’s a very neat, well thought out application that can be mastered in a few minutes.  Everything is logically laid out, making the application easy to navigate. The scores, news feeds and player profiles are uncluttered making it easy to keep up to date while on the move.

Team logos, player photos and icons are all crisp and easily identifiable.

3.              Does it operate as advertised?
Unfortunately the BlackBerry version did not connect to the BBM server as advertised, despite numerous attempts, reboots and even the installation of this week’s update, bringing its score way down in this department.

However, all other aspects of the application delivered on their promise. The application is easy to use and intuitive. Information on games played is sent to the phone within minutes of the game finalising, and in-game information is updated in real-time, giving you up-to-the-minute details like scores and ball possession. The news and highlights videos do however take some time to become available through the application.

Besides keeping you up to date with current games and tournament progress, the Official Rugby World Cup 2011 App automatically detects your time zone and pushes your local times and venues of the matches you want to watch into your calendar. I set the app up to remind me of all Springbok games being played and, within seconds, my calendar was populated with the relevant dates and times. Alerts are also sent to your phone minutes before each game.

4.              Is it innovative?
The Official Rugby World Cup 2011 App is certainly a great application. A lot of thought has been put into its design, development and coding. It is clearly not one of those many applications that were thrown together in a few minutes. However, none of the app’s features are innovative – player stats and team positions can be found in various other places and on various other sources, and there are other apps that perform more or less the same tasks.

5.              Is it value for money?
It is free, informative and boasts a hint of entertainment – a real value for money application. The application weighs in at around 4MB and, once downloaded, its data usage is minimal for most uses. Basic text is the only data that is being fed to your phone. However, when you hit the Fan Zone to watch the highlights, the video downloads are heavyweight, and can result in an unexpectedly high bill from your service provider. The app may be free, but video data is not.

In conclusion
Overall, the Official Rugby World Cup 2011 App is well rounded. It’s an up-to-date app with features designed to take full advantage of current technology. Even after the Rugby World Cup 2011 has come and gone, many users – especially those behind the winning team – will keep the application on their device for the nostalgia. Of course, I’m hoping to be one of those.

Gadget’s app score:
1.     A must have application
2.     A nice to have application
3.     A complete waste of time and memory

The Rugby World Cup app scores a 1 for rugby fans and newly minted fans keen to keep up with the Cup. You have to have it for the duration of the tournament. Relying on newspapers and television to keep up to date is just not cricket.

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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