All Blacks' sports app gets US attention

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Ma'a Nonu, Kees Meeuws and Tamati Ellison's new sports app lets users enter and follow live scoring of grassroots level sports games from anywhere in the world. Photo / Supplied
Ma'a Nonu, Kees Meeuws and Tamati Ellison's new sports app lets users enter and follow live scoring of grassroots level sports games from anywhere in the world. Photo / Supplied

A group of current and ex-All Blacks is launching a new smartphone application which has already grabbed the attention of one rugby-mad university in the United States.

Developed by Kees Meeuws, Ma'a Nonu and Tamati Ellison, the Waterboy app allows users to follow live scoring of grassroots-level sports games anywhere in the world.

The app creates an online space for sports fans to interact with eachother by posting comments about a game they are either watching live or following on a mobile device. Users can also upload photos from the sidelines.

Meeuws said he came up with the idea while he was overseas playing rugby and unable to keep up with his children's sports games.

"All Blacks want to keep up with their own kids' sports just as much as the fans want to see the All Blacks play," he said.

"Waterboy basically makes any game a live broadcast that anyone in the world can follow."

Meeuws teamed up three others - Julian Moller, Jay Lee and Christian Kasper - to form a company in April last year and Nonu and Ellison came on board in October.

Kasper, a German national, said bringing the idea to fruition had so far cost the group about $75,000.

While their main focus was on building a market in New Zealand, Waterboy was currently collaborating with Louisiana State University (LSU).

The college has a strong rugby heritage and was immediately interested when approached by the group of high-profile internationals.

"We were talking to them on Skype and one of the guys held up EA Rugby with Ma'a Nonu on it!"

LSU's Technology Centre is now using the app to develop a sports network involving 20 universities in North America.

A soft launch would take place in the next few weeks and Waterboy had high hopes that other colleges would pick the app up, Kasper said.

The app is free but the company's business model is based on location-based advertising - technology used to pinpoint a user's location and provide advertisements specific to that area.

Any updates made on Waterboy automatically feed onto the user's Facebook site to promote the event and encourage others to start commenting.

Subscribed users receive automatic updates once a stream that fits their criteria - such as a team, location or sport - becomes available.

Sports clubs, teams and organisations can also use the app as a virtual clubroom, to broadcast events and game cancellations to their official social media platforms.

Meeuws said he came up with the name while running on to the pitch as the waterboy in a Highlanders match.

"I thought 'nobody gets closer to the action than the waterboy'."

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