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March 27, 2014

RBS Six Nations website keeps up the pace with new digital solution

Digital sports agency Sotic tells CBR how they handled peak traffic times during this year's tournament.

By Claire Vanner

If you are a rugby fan, then it is likely you visited the official RBS Six Nations website during this year’s rugby union championship tournament.

Digital sports agency Sotic has been working with the Six Nations Committee to provide web services for the RBS Six Nations Rugby Tournament for the last ten years, providing news, match reports, competitions and player profiles for the public to access.

"Technology moves forward very quickly and the last time the site was rebuilt was about five years ago. It was looking tired and didn’t work in modern technology. Namely, it wasn’t a good representation of the site in a mobile environment," says Leo Mindel, director of technology, Sotic.

Sotic were tasked with moving the tournament’s online presence forward to produce a new site for the 2014 season and chose to use the OpenText web content management platform to do this.

The site needs to highlight the vast depths of information and stats associated with the game. This includes real-time scoring, in-depth player analysis and live pictures coming straight from the games, all of which need to be displayed as fast as possible.

"The site is busy all year round, but the tournament runs over the eight weeks in March every year, so those weeks and match weekends in particular see huge volumes of people on the site. Those stats and images need to load up quickly and all be accessible at the peak traffic times," said Lyndsey Irwin, Sotic digital media manager.


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To achieve this, Sotic employed the use of a content delivery network to serve the pages out to the end user. "What made that possible is the way we use and deploy the OpenText web content management system," said Mindel.

"We are able to push out all the pages and all the information. So we are fast at publishing the information out, rather than some other systems where the pages are built on cache or dynamically as people come in."

During the weekends of the tournament, peak traffic reached 19,976 people on a site per minute. But during the rest of the year, traffic is a lot more manageable, which means that purchasing more server and data space is not financially viable.

"Instead all your content needs to come out of content management system that can deliver the pages rather than being built dynamically and then work with content delivery systems to make it happen. We use Highwinds [the CDS also used by gaming platform Steam] to ensure the pages are there and everything works," said Mindell.

The site also posed a challenge for Sotic as it is true tri-lingual in English, French and Italian, with all versions of the site needing to work at top speeds all over the world.

"[Being tri-lingual] adds huge amount of complexity, and this is the big area where the Opentext content management system helps because it natively supports language translations," said Mindel.

"It effectively does the heavy lifting of language translation. As you create individual page or element in on language, it creates the information for other languages, so you can then pass it to a translator to handle."

The look and feel of website has also been updated to reflect user habits. The site is now compatible with mobile and tablet platforms and is more social media-centric.

rugby phone

"Now everything we do is very social media enabled. All of the social media channels are managed and delivered out of the OpenText web content management, so the person doing the work doesn’t have to go onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: it’s all done from one place in web content management and it’s delivered out," said Mindel.

As a result of Stoic’s work on OpenText, functioned soundly throughout the tournament. Shane Whelan, the Six Nations Committee’s head of digital said: "We are delighted with the new digital solution. We have an online presence that is as dynamic and expansive as the Championship itself and we hope that all fans enjoy the online experience we are delivering for them."

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