All Blacks Skill Closer – VERSA

Alexa Adds All Blacks Rugby Team Skill 

Fans of New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team can keep tabs on their team with a new Alexa skill. Australian digital design agency Versa partnered with New Zealand Rugby to create the official skill.

A Voice for Rugby

The All Blacks skill comes with several built-in activities. Those with an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled devices can tell the voice assistant to “ask All Blacks for the latest news,” and get game previews, recaps, and special behind-the-scenes information unique to the skill. The skill also allows users to hear, or watch if they have a smart display, the famous Haka war dance and learn about its history. There is also a weekly quiz about the All Blacks, and players can see how they rank on a global scoreboard. The new skill is available in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the U.S., and Canada.

“As a proud Kiwi, I’m personally thrilled to be working with the All Blacks to develop this [voice experience] that leverages the possibilities of AI and voice technology to connect brands and fans in more meaningful ways,” Versa CEO said Kath Blackham in a statement. “The All Blacks Skill is set to be an exciting addition to the Rugby World Cup this year.”

Sports Speaks Up

According to Versa, there are more than 800 million rugby followers globally and it is the world’s fastest-growing team sport. Rugby isn’t alone in exploring the potential of voice skills. Alexa has been quick to grow its sports knowledge database in several directions. When Amazon scored worldwide streaming rights to the US Open, it made Alexa its “tennis expert.” And, the voice assistant has built up a huge American football database, including the NFL, NCAA, and high school football game coverage.

Fantasy sports have also become a growing element of Alexa’s sports skills. Alexa started adding football and other sports information to its queries last year, while FanDuel created an Alexa fantasy football game. Recently, the voice assistant partnered with conversational AI developer StatMuse to turn Alexa into a Fantasy Football coach, offering advice from ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry.

While Alexa is generally ahead on the scoreboard of sports skills, Google isn’t entirely stuck on the bleachers. Earlier this year, Google Assistant kept fans of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup informed on standings and stats of the teams and players. As more people adopt smart speakers and other voice assistant-enabled devices, additional sports leagues and teams are likely to start connecting to fans via voice skills, but only the All Blacks will be able to offer the Haka.


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