YOUNG players at Kings Norton Rugby Club were given the chance to train with the England rugby squad at the weekend – without setting foot outside their home ground.
The Rhinos were given the opportunity to be tackled by hooker Tom Youngs and accept a pass from full back Mike Brown as part of an innovative virtual reality experience from O2.
The club, based at Ash Lane, Hopwood, played host to a huge custom-built truck, which is touring the country giving young rugby players a taste of the action.
It is the first fully immersive 360-degree virtual reality sports experience and is being brought to local rugby clubs across the country. Using the revolutionary Oculus Rift technology, the experience gives fans the chance to train with the England rugby team without ever setting foot on a blade of grass.
Donning the special goggles and earphones, the Rhinos discovered what it is like to be on the England training pitch getting a team talk from captain Chris Robshaw and joining in with a training session.
The virtual reality experience was created using nine GoPro Hero 3 cameras inside a custom-built gimble, specifically designed to exploit the capabilities of Oculus Rift.
After developing the technology, it then took 160 hours of filming and 320 hours of development to create the experience, which allows a 360-degree visual spectrum.
Kings Norton’s president Mark Pearson said: “This was such a great opportunity for the club and our young players.
“Here at Kings Norton we are determined to make the most of the Rugby World Cup year and show just how fantastic a sport rugby can be for youngsters.”
The tour aims to get rugby fans closer to the action and sees O2 call on the country to Wear the Rose and get behind the England rugby team in 2015.
Visit KNRFC online at www.knrfc.co.uk.
The O2 truck in situ at Kings Norton RFC, Ash Lane, Hopwood. (s)