Thursday 18 January 2018

GPS monitoring becoming an increasingly vital tool in rugby

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien puts a GPS unit into Isaac Boss’ jersey during Ireland training
Ireland’s Sean O’Brien puts a GPS unit into Isaac Boss’ jersey during Ireland training

David Wallace

GPS monitoring of players is becoming a massive part of rugby.

At the top level there are very few teams that do not use some form of statistical analysis and I've seen first hand the benefits and information it can give you to help you improve as a player.

And I recently started working with one of the leading companies in the field, STATSports and is a really interesting business.

These days you will see nearly every player who takes the field in a top rugby match with a GPS device in the back of their jersey between their shoulders, which collects their personal performance data.

It primarily came about for monitoring players' work load so that coaches were able to see if a guy was fatiguing before injury came along.

In the past there was a perception that it gives the player no hiding place, but the aim is to spot a player approaching his maximum work load and protect them from small tissue tears.

And the data is now being used in different areas and by a myriad of coaches aside from strength and conditioning experts.

Birds-eye 2D imaging of the match data allows coaches to spot players if they are out of line in a defensive system or in attack, while scrum data shows if the back five are working in tandem with the front-row during the hit.

But it's also going to have a big impact on broadcasting rights too, it'll be a big part of the game in years to come.

You can imagine that we could yet see players' 'distance covered' stats like broadcasters have in Champions League games, or even the heart-rate of a player as he steps up to take a pressure kick.

It's a fascinating prospect for the TV viewer.

Irish Independent

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