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Imagine you're a rugby coach, and you've coached your team for a few years. While the results have been good, and everyone's having fun, you can't help but notice that the team hasn't shown any marked signs of improvement from year to year.
Though you've tried mixing up the practice structure, introduced new drills, and devised new game plans, you're consistently seeing the same product on the field week in and week out. You're just not sure what exactly it is that's holding your team back. If only there was a way to quantify and hone in on exactly which areas of your game you need work on, you could tailor your training and focus to address these concerns.
That's where Wayne Eells and Brendon Shields come in. Eells is the head of Rugby Indiana, the governing body of all youth and high school rugby in the state, while Brendon Shields is the founder of Rugbycology, a rugby analytics software platform designed to help grow and enhance knowledge of the sport.
According to Shields, "Wayne Eells from Rugby Indiana was the visionary person behind the project to provide a free analysis software tool to all its junior club and schools teams.
"He approached me a few months ago to custom develop a simplistic analytics tool that can be used with pen and paper, and that produces the type of analytics that community coaches can really benefit from, such as the amount of times the ball is passed to the wings!"
The process is simple, and requires nothing more than a pen and some paper.
"You do not require any video footage. All you need is for a parent or an assistant coach to grab a clipboard and count events - then punch them into the program later on to generate analysis," says Shields.
Have a look at an example of just a portion of how the software visualizes both single game and trending data points put into the system here:
The aim of the initiative, which again will be free to all coaches, is to come to a better understanding about where we can be better and to see beyond winning and losing.
As Shields states, "This is a great opportunity for every single coach at any level to start engaging with simple game science.
"The entire point of the project is to remove winning and losing as the sole focus. By giving players smaller and more adventurous targets, we want to make the game more fun. You can lose a game but still make measurable progress!"
Shields sees Eells as a "true visionary of the game" and says that the U.S. "should be bloody proud to have people like him in the game."
Moving forward, Shields says, "The job now is to convince coaches in Indiana to use the tool. My company provides online training and analysis tips to coaches on how to use their reports to develop better training sessions and game strategies."