Sunday 25 August 2019

Pat Lam: Top of the Guinness Pro12 table would be a nice place to be

Pat Lam speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin this week – ‘I was asked to speak about the role of real-time analytics in sport which is an important part of our game’the
Pat Lam speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin this week – ‘I was asked to speak about the role of real-time analytics in sport which is an important part of our game’the

Pat Lam

It's been a very quick week and a short turnaround from Saturday to our Friday night game against Treviso. It's definitely ideal that we're at home again this week, particularly ahead of the monster trip to Russia next Tuesday for nearly a six-day round trip.

Second in the Pro12 table is not a bad place to be before we switch our attention to Europe but we would love to go one further and get to that top spot with a fifth consecutive win tonight.

All we can do is worry about our own game and check in on how Leinster did at home to the unbeaten Scarlets. They kick off at the same time tonight, and if they do the job on them at the RDS and we pick up the win, we'll be top which would certainly be a nice way to sign off this block of league games.

We take a lot of satisfaction from Saturday's result against Edinburgh. It probably wasn't the most exciting game, with only one try scored, but it was one of true grit and determination that highlighted the success of sticking to our processes.

In particular our defence and the numbers that came through in the review were phenomenal. We cut them down and it was one of our most impressive efforts against a team that are the best defensive side in the competition.


They'd only conceded four tries before the weekend and we managed to open them up. It was a great score from Tiernan O'Halloran, but for us as coaches and the entire squad it was so pleasing as it was one we had prepared for.

Everyone sees Matt Healy bursting the gap and passing to Tiernan, but what we saw was all the other guys involved, how everyone was running their lines and executing their roles.

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Edinburgh surprised us last year by holding us up with the choke tackle and slowing down our ball. So we highlighted that and put in a lot of work around our carries and our support play. They average 95pc in their tackle percentage but we put a lot of pressure on them and we forced them into making over 100 tackles which was pleasing from an attack perspective.

When Edinburgh had the last play of the match, it reminded me of Cardiff last year and those tight games, but the boys put in a mighty effort, defended for three minutes and 22 seconds, phase after phase, and that is something we train for.

We've introduced a specific training game for defence. It's a conditioning game where players have to defend for long periods of time, and that came about because we put ourselves in those situations last year, but didn't nail it. So we nailed one this season and it's great to see the transference from training into the game.

After the physicality of Edinburgh, we had a light enough week in the lead up to today. Tuesday was a down day for us and so I was able to accept an invite to go up to Dublin and speak at the Web Summit. I didn't know too much about it before but I was asked to speak about the role of real-time analytics in sport which is an important part of our game.

We have a saying at Connacht that 'the only sustainable competitive advantage you have is the ability to learn faster than your opposition'. With that in mind, we obviously put a lot of emphasis on our analysis. It's not just stats and video footage - it's what you do and how you use it to help players learn and develop their own game as well as coaches using it to develop game-plans.

When we did a review of last season, we were conceding a lot of tries early on, but we were number one in the whole Pro12 in not conceding tries after half time. People would be thinking 'what was said at half time?' but it was the analysis we were able to show in the changing room for the players to realise where or what we needed to adjust.

A lot of the things that we fixed happened purely on the basis of what we were able to hone in on.

I have to say I was really impressed with the set up in the RDS for the three-day event. There was so much to see and do but it was a quick visit before we had to get back to Galway and our preparations for tonight's game.

I think there are nearly 40,000 people that come from all over the world to attend and network so it was certainly something different. It was a great expereince.

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