There’s an American TV series called ‘Person of Interest’ which features a super computer that not only monitors everyone in the US but can predict when they are in trouble – a tough bastard (who’s a goody) then sorts it all out.


I always thought that whilst this was quite fun it was also a bit fanciful – but then I started to read about how technology is now being used in rugby to monitor and predict all sorts of things. Obviously I’m talking about the pro game not at Askeans – although I did see Lunny talking earnestly on his mobile at a recent game and wondered if he was relaying tactics to the scrum half. Turns out he was just ordering a take-away, but maybe advanced techno stuff will come to Well Hall soon (along with a nice Madras)


Never mind – at the Exeter v Bath game yesterday I counted four laptops being used by Rob Baxter and his coaches – and he kept talking into a little mike thing with his hand over his mouth – presumably in order that we didn’t know that he was playing ‘Battleships’ with some bloke in India I’m only joking – it was almost certainly more important than that – probably chess or Loggo with Bren (see earlier post).

The rise in use of techno is all a bit Big Brother – except this is 2014 not 1984 (obviously – I know cos I checked it on my i-phone – see even I’m at it!)

In the Premiership they monitor heart rate, distance run, acceleration, deceleration (?) and speed zones (whatever the f**k they are) – plus –

“A built-in accelerometer allows coaches and players to see the intensity of contact they take and dish out in each game.” (no – really!)


In ordinary speak I’ve worked out that the benefit of all this information is that you can work out one of two things – (a) whether the player is lazing about and (b) any player who is totally shagged out and needs a bit of a blow. (this doesn’t refer to drugs obviously – well not until half time anyway)

If they’d had this technology when I played – I would have confused the coach (apologies to John P and Rod amongst others) since I’d qualify for both of the above eventualities about two minutes after we’d kicked off! (and drugs would have been a definite help)

Of course, the fact that substitutes hadn’t been introduced back then would have made bugger all difference anyway.

In the pro game the theory is that the coaches use all the data to make substitutions based on what the computer is telling them rather than their own experience and intuition. I’ll be honest my laptop has a f*****g mind of its own most of the time – it loses stuff, turns itself off and on and chucks up stupid messages about I’ve made an illegal copy of a CD and it has to close the programme. I wouldn’t trust it to tell me the right time much less direct me on how to run a rugby game!

But what do I know (not much obviously) – you see, I wouldn’t have taken Danny Care and Dylan Hartley off against France – they seemed to be two of our best players and didn’t look all that knackered to me. But – apparently the ‘Little Britain’ computer said that they were ‘due for a breather’ so off they came after about 60 minutes.

I don’t know how much extra training the two did in the next 7 days but against Scotland they stayed on until almost the end! That’s full marks to the fitness coach I reckon!

There’s an even better bit of technology being used now – it can predict when a player will get injured – seriously I’m not making this up!

“Like any sport the game takes its toll on players, so we take all this data and put it into an algorithm and are able to essentially predict when a player is likely to get injured, depending on that GPS data.”

Now this is a brilliant bit of kit – if only I’d had this back when I was playing I could have avoided all sorts of nasty stuff (see the – very long – post on ‘Getting Hurt’). Les could have shouted to me to get out of the way when that bastard broke and dislocated my ankle with a late tackle (especially as Ben dropped the pass anyway) – DK could have been told to stay with the forwards instead of ending up breaking my nose and Pheasey might have suggested (loudly) that I didn’t sit the ball just before the Welsh git from Penarth smashed my zygomatic arch! And I’m not even counting the game in which I broke both my leg and jaw – in different incidents!

There comes a point when the blokes coaching really have to take some responsibility for their decisions rather than letting Bill Gates do it (he’s an American for f***s sake!). We didn’t have all that technology and it didn’t do me any harm – well alright – but you know what I mean.

When I worked in marketing Airdy (who was in sales) always maintained that selling was about gut feel and face to face negotiation – if you simply just faxed the prices to Tesco then all that was needed was a secretary. Mind you he also spent most of his time when he was MD shouting “Sell more you bastards!”