Jousting, England’s first national sport, is being brought bang up-to-date as English Heritage trials VAR (Video Assisted Referee) sports technology to kick off its series of jousts across England this August, the charity announced today (Wednesday 31 July).
At Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, in collaboration with leading VAR specialist Hawk-Eye, English Heritage’s jousters today will for the first time ever be subject to the scrutiny of the same sophisticated vision processing technology as used in tennis, football and rugby. Hawk-Eye will track and use video replay to accurately score the competitors’ moves.
Jousting requires an extremely high level of athleticism and agility, skill and strength. Under the weight of 20kg of steel armour, competitors hold a 12ft lance in one hand and their horse’s reins in the other, all while thundering towards their opponents, at speeds of up to 30mph. But until now, the fast-paced sport has not kept up with the fast-paced technological advances which would allow a more accurate scoring system. In jousting, each hit with the lance to different parts of the shield or helmet is worth a different number of points, so accuracy is vital to the jousters’ overall score. Today, these hits will be able to be accurately verified for the first time.
Emily Sewell, English Heritage’s Head of Events, said: “One of the misconceptions surrounding jousting is that the intense clashes visitors see are highly choreographed, but in reality this is just not the case. It takes a great deal of precision and skill to aim the 12ft lance at a moving target and make the hit with the most points and it really matters to the knights – their honour is everything. But it also currently requires our Knight Marshall to accurately observe the location of each hit every time, which is quite a challenge.
“Now, for the first time ever, our jousters today will be able to call on Hawk-Eye’s specialist VAR technology during the joust to verify their points. This is our first trial of this sometimes controversial technology and we’ll be interested to hear what our visitors – and jousters – make of it! It could revolutionise the ancient sport as we know it.”
Felix Coates, Hawk-Eye’s Advanced Football System Lead, said: “With experience in officiating over 20 sports across the world, it’s brilliant for Hawk-Eye Innovations to be able to add the sport of kings to its portfolio! Jousting is a really fast-paced event with a complex scoring system, and being able to track and watch the jousters in slow motion using our VAR systems will show the precision and athleticism needed to take part. We’re really excited to be collaborating with English Heritage to bring this ancient and challenging sport into the 21st century.”
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Notes to editors:
Scores and Rules of Jousting:
If a lance strikes but does not break it is recognised but not scored.
Illegals blows or barricades are not scored and warning can be given for poor lance control.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edge of the empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. Registered charity no. 1140351. www.english-heritage.org.uk
Hawk-Eye is a leading innovator in sports technology. First used as a broadcast tool to analyse decisions in Cricket, Hawk-Eye has now become an integral part of over 20 sports and every year covers 20,000 games or events across 500+ stadiums in over 90 countries. Hawk-Eye is part of Sony and has offices around the world.