The Role Of The Analyst In Modern Rugby

rugby analyst

This article will look to provide an insight into some of the roles and tasks that might be required from a performance analyst at international and club level.  I have separated the tasks into two groups: during the week tasks and game related tasks.  Below is a list of the areas I will highlight in this piece:

Tasks Performed During The Week

Fitness Testing / Assessments

This sort of task is usually performed during pre-season as method of collating the variables that could be recorded form the various fitness tests utilized by both club and international sides.  Two pieces of equipment that might be used for this would be the sports tracker boxes easily identified in the back of shirts (See below left) popular for game analysis and the GPS sports bra (See below right), used more during a training scenario.  This equipment will look to mainly record distance covered by individual as an assessment of how far different individuals and therefore different positions may cover the ground during a match.  In addition to this, these tracking systems can also record speed, this would then be used measure the acceleration time of individual during a match.  A third use that can be developed from pre season is the measurement of the intensity of running work done during a match or training session.  For example, the threshold of different exercise intensities can be calculated from the predicted Heart Rate max identified during the fitness testing.  This can then be used to analyze the different intensities that an individual performs during a match, such as how many sprints they perform and for how long.

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Collaboration Of Training Sessions

The process of collecting information from training sessions provides useful primarily for the coaches and can also be used by players.  The coaches will use the video of the training sessions as a chance to see how the side implements their desired game strategy and set piece moves and if they are performed successfully.  Through this process the coaches can check if the players have understood what is required of them perhaps from a new coach or of a new player, in addition is can be used to assess the abilities of players and identify any possible strengths and weaknesses in their game which could have an impact on the role they have been assigned and how they could be utilized differently.

Identification Of Techniques And Any Possible Injury Concerns

A follow-on from the training recording, in combination with game data analysis this could be used to identify if a player has imbalances in muscle groups or if a kicker’s technique may be detrimental to their long term health and so may need to be changed.  This sort of analysis is primarily performed by a sport biomechanist who identifies this.

Collate Data On Possible New Signings

This form of analysis is used to collaborate data of a potential new signing as asked by coaches which shows the moments of good skill and their strengths as well as their weaknesses and any possible implications it may have for the teams strategy or success if that player were to be signed.  Similar to this the recording of academy games, junior internationals and second string sides provides the coaches with the opportunity to promote players from within based on their successful performances and form for the other sides.

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Game Related Tasks

Assessment Of Opposition

This provides the coaches the opportunity to see more of the opposition in the league before the upcoming matches.  It provides both coaches and players with the opportunity to identify the opposition’s main strengths and weaknesses, main ball carriers, best tacklers, best ball winners in a ruck situation.  In addition to this it can be used to identify lineout calls and plays as well as identify some of those ‘dark arts’ that they may employ in the scrum.  From a players perspective it can provide them the opportunity to identify some traits of their opposite number such as a lack of pace or a habit of taking the ball into contact.  This sort of analysis provides an opportunity that was not accessible before the recording of live games and relied on word of mouth and knowledge of coaches preferred methods and the players at their disposal.

Recording Of Game Data And Statistics During/After The Match

The use of lapsed time analysis or real-time analysis can be seen at almost every professional rugby club and at international level.  The analysts can provide the various coaches with the opportunity to see previous plays or identify weaknesses uncovered during the match.  This form of analysis can be vital to the strategies used during a match an how a coach and team alter their strategy dependent on winning or losing or other circumstances. The whole game will then be broken down by the analysis team for the coaches to review at the team meeting in the weeks preparation for the next game and provides them with the areas to work on for that week before focusing on tactics relevant to the net opposition.

Analysis Of Individual Sessions

Analysts have been able to help provide an unprecedented level of performance review seen before.  With this level of analysis the players can watch through the game themselves reviewing their decision-making and positioning during the match or ask coaches and analysts to watch alongside and help to correct their errors.  This has helped to play a vital role in player’s development through the use of peer review and self-evaluation particularly in the younger players.  In addition to this, analysts who collect their coaching badges can help to influence a player’s career.

Producing A Computerized Playbook

Another job that an analyst may perform is the creation of a ‘computerized playbook’.  This would consist of a video recording of each successful lineout, set piece move, strike moves and game strategies in loose play.  This can then be used to provide new players with the understanding of the team and save hours of training, allowing new players to move straight in to teams.  This playbook could also then be used for the next season and provides players with a knowledge of these set pieces as well as helping coaches to identify where things may be going wrong during matches and where mistakes may occur from.

Overall performance analysis and the analyst have become highly sought after members of the backroom staff. It has become an increasingly important role in not only modern rugby but also other sports in the modern day especially with the influence of statistics in performance and how teams believe they have an impact on performance.

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