Think you can analyse the Blues’ game?

Think you can analyse the Blues’ game?

Until recently, coding and rugby were played on two entirely different fields. One existed in cyberspace, the other on a grass field. As the game has evolved and rugby analysis has advanced, we’ve seen these two fields merge.

Our Video Analyst, Troy Webber, is strengthening this relationship, using his knowledge of the game and Information Technology.
Like a lot of Kiwi kids, Troy grew up rugby mad. He played flanker until university when injury got the better of him and his studies took priority – he earned a Bachelor of Commerce as well as a Masters in IT from Australia’s Bond University, before returning to New Zealand to work in Customer Relationship Management software development.
In 2007, after seven years in the IT industry, Troy was ready for a change and his goal was rugby. There was only one problem – where to start?
“I had no experience in video analysis, I was even thinking about coming in from a marketing angle,” he said. But his experience in IT proved more valuable.
Troy came on with the Blues as a Video Analyst fulltime in 2010.
On game-day, Troy provides the crucial link between what’s happening on the field and what the coaches can analyse from their box. He’ll capture the SKY truck’s four camera views and then connect each coach’s computer with the live stream. Upon kick-off, Troy will begin coding the game.
Coding is similar to tagging a video on Facebook. As the video streams and appears in a timeline, Troy will tag specific reference points like starts of play, penalties, turnovers and balls conceded. Whenever there’s a break in play, Troy and the coaches can go back to a specific moment to see what opportunities are being missed or what errors can be fixed. You can see an example of this in the image above.
The information can also be sent to iPads and computers at halftime, which are in turn shown to the players in the changing room. While the half-time show entertains the crowd, the players will analyse the game and figure out what needs to change in the second half.
Post-game, as the crowd files out of Eden Park’s gates and the players begin their cool down and recovery, Troy will remain in the coach’s box. He stacks all the footage into one file along with the game code and Opta game statistics, and then hands it over to the coaches for review.
Finally, he’ll code each player’s game, bookmarking each moment of play – a process that can take up to five hours.
“If it’s a Lock, we’ll review his lineouts, if it’s a Prop or Hooker, we’ll review his position in the scrum,” he said.
The analysis doesn’t stop on Game Day. Each training session is monitored via one or two video cameras, set up by Troy early in the morning. A seven metre high SportsMast mounted with a camera provides players and coaches with a bird’s eye view of play.
During the 2015 season, Troy would live stream training on to a giant screen. Now we’re using iPads for the live stream, helping coaches fix errors on the spot.
Off the field and in the lead up to a match, our 38-man squad will review four to five games from the opposition. How they strike, what they do on the counter-attack, specific plays, all referenced in an output window. Click on one of the categories, say the opposition’s lineout trends, and video examples will open in another window.
“I like having footage behind the numbers,” said Troy. “If I show the guys a graph, they may not respond as well.”
As smartphones advance, pretty soon the players and coaches will have constant access to every moment of the game. “That’s the aim.”