Jousting Joins the Football, Tennis and Cricket VAR Revolution

  • English Heritage trials Video Assisted Referee (VAR) at medieval sport
  • Charity collaborates with Hawk-Eye: the leading innovator in sports technology


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.

Jousting too has gone from strength to strength since 2016 when English Heritage launched a campaign for jousting to be recognised as an Olympic sport. Since then, thousands of people have signed our petition calling for England’s first national sport to be given a place at a future Olympic Games. And in 2017, double Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton became English Heritage’s latest jouster after the charity challenged her to try her hand at England’s first national sport. The champion cyclist swapped her bicycle for a steed, her lycra for a full suit of armour, and faced English Heritage’s expert jousters at a special training session.

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 (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."

To find an English Heritage joust near you visit:

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