England Rugby 5G Hologram

England Rugby stars appear as 5G-powered holograms to surprise schoolchildren

The technology was powered by O2’s 5G mobile network, helping connect the players and schoolchildren in real-time despite being in separate locations

England Rugby players, including Ellis Genge, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell surprised a Bristol primary school with a virtual rugby PE lesson, appearing as 4k holograms.

With England rugby players still operating with COVID restrictions during the Guinness Six Nations, O2’s 5G mobile network was able to project Ellis Genge, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade as 4k holograms to surprise a group of schoolchildren with a ‘world first’ virtual rugby PE lesson.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, England Rugby players have had to operate under COVID restrictions, meaning that they have been unable to meet fans and the British public in person.

So ahead of England’s crunch game with Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday 12 March, O2 teamed up with the England men’s rugby team to give a group of schoolchildren in Bristol a PE lesson they’d never forget.

Using Portl, a high-spec device that uses hologram technology to project users in 4k resolution, England players Ellis Genge, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell gate-crashed a standard PE lesson at Summerhill Academy thanks to O2’s 5G mobile network.

The primary school has had limited exposure to rugby so the players took the schoolchildren – a mix of boys and girls aged between seven and 11 – through a variety of introductory training drills concluding with a touch rugby match with the stars shouting instructions and encouragement from the futuristic device at a separate location.

Gareth Griffiths, Director, Partnerships and Sponsorship at Virgin Media O2, said: 

“Using the power of O2’s 5G mobile network, we’ve been able to showcase an innovative solution to bring together England rugby players Henry, Ellis and Jack with a lucky group of schoolchildren in a way that, to date, has been unimageable. Through our partnership with England Rugby, we have exciting plans to continue to provide fans even more unforgettable experiences, thanks to our connectivity.”

To ensure that the schoolchildren looked the part, all participants were given England shirts by the players to wear during the training session. At the end of the PE lesson, there was time for the kids to also speak to the players and pose for photos in their hologram form.

The virtual rugby PE lesson is a great example of how the latest technology, powered by O2’s 5G mobile network, can help connect elite level athletes to help inspire the next generation of rugby players through unforgettable experiences.

Steve Grainger, Director of Rugby Development at RFU, said: 

“Engaging with local communities is at the heart of the work that we do and helps to inspire a new generation of players across the country.

Due to the pandemic, this type of technology is a great tool to bring fans closer to the players and helps act as a huge motivation For Eddie Jones and the team when they step onto the pitch.”