English Heritage has announced that a series of jousting events being held this month will be a bit different from the medieval version. These events will included VAR (Video Assisted Referee) sports technology.
Using the Hawk-Eye system, English Heritage’s jousters will compete under the same instant replay scrutiny found in many other sports, including tennis and football. This will allow officials to more accurately score the competitors’ hits against their opponents.
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.
“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,” explains Emily Sewell, English Heritage’s Head of Events. “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, added, “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 (it definitely makes a change from cricket!) 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.”
English Heritage has been attempting to modernize the sport in recent years, and hopes to have it included in the Olympic games. In 2017, double Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton became an English Heritage jouster.
Top Image: Photo by jennicatpink / Flickr