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Pro Clubs & Colleges

Innovation in Rugby: More Than 60 New Event Qualifiers

By: Ben Jermy

Rugby is complicated. With hundreds of set pieces and breakdowns happening every game. In-fact, last season the top 4 leagues averaged over 170 rucks and mauls per game. With so much going on it can be difficult to analyse every players’ movement and understand the thought process behind every decision.  

Attack off set piece is arguably the most difficult to defend, players tied into scrums and lineouts means extra space on the field to capitalise on. More often than not, it is the decisions of a playmaker that create attacking opportunities from set piece ball. Better understanding these decisions will allow analysts to spot trends and implement more effective defence, or better take advantage of the attacking opportunities themselves. That’s why our new Pro Rugby updates include 60 new data qualifiers, adding a granular level of detail and much greater context to set pieces and breakdowns.

New context means new capabilities

Currently, an analyst can integrate detailed, timestamped, Opta data into a timeline of match events and see every scrum, lineout, maul and ruck. But this only gives a very limited insight into what actually happened in a phase of play. Our new qualifiers provide rich context that an analyst needs to really understand how a playing phase developed. 

Previously the analyst could apply a filter and see every attacking lineout in a game. But now using our new qualifiers, they can filter based on how the play developed after the set piece. For example, how many times did the halfback distribute the ball to a first or second receiver from the lineout vs kicking the ball or carrying it themselves? And where did the play move after that? Was the next breakdown wide, middle or close to the lineout or did the possession end after the first phase?  

The analyst is now able to choose from over 60 new qualifiers and filter over the course of a game, season or career. This allows for deep analysis of a small number of recent fixtures in order to prepare for their next opponent, or longer-term trend analysis informing recruitment and the wider evolution of competitions.

Improving workflows and efficiency

Imagine I am the lead performance analyst for a URC team, and I want to provide my coaches with some guidance at the start of a game week against Munster. 

Having watched their last match against Ulster and knowing they are a big physical team, we know that Munster’s number eight likes to pick up and carry off the back of attacking scrums in an attempt to draw a few defenders and create space out wide. But which scrums do they target? Where on the field are they? And which channels do they attack? I want this information over the course of a whole season not just one match.  

Ordinarily I would ask my junior analyst to go through every Munster fixture and every scrum tagging up each time the number eight picked, where on the pitch it was and where they carried. But with the new qualifiers I can instantly filter every time their number 8 was the “Acting Halfback” from the base of a scrum, if they passed or carried into contact, and where exactly on the pitch they carried to in relation to the scrum. 

I can now easily produce a comprehensive report with suggested areas of focus for the week’s training. The new qualifiers will allow analysts to add statistical back-up or guidance when previewing opposition play from both set piece strikes as well as phase play. Allowing them to focus on what a team’s width of attack looks like, compare it to their own side and other teams to add another dimension to research on this aspect of the game. 

All our new data will be available live, and in post-match reports/software, enabling teams to use the richer insight to inform decisions in real time. 

Some of the new qualifiers include:

  • Playmaker Options
  • Direction and distance of movement from set piece (Tight, Wide, Blind etc.)
  • Direction and length of pass

Our rugby offering is evolving

In addition to general enhancements to the interface and user experience of RugbyHub and DataEngine, analysts will have access to new features to enhance analysis and communicate insights to players and coaches. 

Multi-Angle video player: For competitions where Stats Perform have access
to multiple angles, these can now be accessed within RugbyHub’s main video

Multi-Angle Video

BI data extract report: A new CSV file feed, utilising Advanced Superscout
data is available to Rugby Union customers.

Overhauling DataEngine’s user experience: Improvements to DataEngine
mean that it is now easier and more straightforward for you to access existing
reports, as well as building out new reports. As part of these changes, loading
speeds for DataEngine reports will also be reduced. 

New graphics section: Users can now search across major competitions in
the Opta rugby database, and apply filters to display key match events
involving specific teams or players on a pitch map or radar chart. 

Keep your eyes peeled for even more innovation soon, it’s an exciting time to be one of our Rugby Clients. Interested in our Pro Rugby offering? Find out more here.