Revealing how the England Rugby team use data collection to achieve success

“People in all fields operate with beliefs and biases. To the extent you can eliminate both and replace them with data, you gain a clear advantage. Michael Lewis – Moneyball

With the Rugby World Cup fast approaching, we wanted to delve into the England Rugby team’s coaching structure and see just how the concept of data collection, in order to form the basis for decisions, was being used to provide them with an advantage.

The Emergence of Data Analytics in Sport

Whilst the concept of data collection and statistical analysis to influence decisions has been around in sports for many years, mainly led through baseball ‘sabermetrics’, rugby’s first openly discussed use of this methodology came through England Coach, Clive Woodward, when he signed an agreement with performance analysis company ‘Prozone’ prior to the 2003 Rugby World Cup (in which England won the competition) to remove the preconceived notions about how other teams played and to statistically improve each of his own players through data analysis. Clive Woodward was quoted saying ‘‘from the moment you walk down that tunnel, we’ve got you. We know every step you make, how fast and how hard you’re working.”

Related: 4 ways ‘big data’ is changing our customer’s experiences

This in-depth analysis of each individual led to a greater understanding of each players strengths and where improvements could be made under varying circumstances with Woodward bringing in specialists such as muscle tenderers and psychologists, to a ‘vision expert’ to improve the players peripheral vision during games.

Clive Woodward with Vison Expert, Dr Sherylle Calder in 2003

England Rugby Team Coach Clive Woodward
Since the 2003 World Cup, rugby has grown to understand performance analysis more and more with New Zealand the announcing their partnership with well-known sports data analysts Opta Sports back in 2012 to statistically improve their results.

The England Rugby Team in 2015

This leads us to 2015 and England’s methods during the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. The first tool to consider is the GPS tracking software being used to capture a plethora of data. This is sewn into a ‘bro’ which the players wear under their shirts to hold the device between their shoulder blades both in training and during matches.

A player wearing the ‘bro’ with the tracking device being inserted into it

data analysis of rugby players
The GPS software collects data throughout the match in order to provide the coaches with real time data as well as the overall match analysis for both the players and coaches to effectively debrief. Examples of the data collected is:

  • Real time heart rate
  • Distance covered
  • Maximum speeds
  • Body impact loads
  • Collision energy loss
  • Running efficiency

The above list is only a small amount of information that the England team obtain through this device and therefore players can not only be optimised on a micro scale but also utilised in the most effective manner with substitute effectiveness on key game events now a realistic ability. The information collected is actively being used in injury prevention too as through the calculation of ongoing loads as well as collision forces on muscles and soft tissue, team doctors can not only rehabilitate players more effectively, but also know how to train weak points in order to prevent them from being injured in future games, extremely useful in such a demanding physical test such as the World Cup.
Like any productive use of data, the information gathered must be transferred into an understandable form. The England coaching staff have the data transferred into graphical representations in order to make player comparisons with ease.

An example of the data collected as seen by the coaches

how the rugby data looks during analysis
The software is used both by the coaches in real time throughout the games to make the most appropriate decisions on the use of players and play strategies but also each player is provided the software during their down time so that the interaction between the players and the coaches both in the lead up to games and throughout the debrief can be highly specific, allowing for self-learning too.


Through the use of data collection and its further analysis, the behaviour of the individuals can be monitored and optimised leading to predicted results and beneficial outcomes. If we are able to manipulate the factors and biases that challenge the positive outcomes then we can minimise the negative aspect of the overall environment.
With businesses such as the financial services, technology, retail and healthcare undertaking this same methodology by analysing behaviour and performance in order to increase the chances of a positive outcome, why is it that the property industry is still lagging in its undertaking of this trend.
Some examples of potential uses of big data within the property industry may be:

  • Property Developers could analyse the best use of space to maximise health benefits and life expectancy.
  • Estate Agents could analyse the needs of prospects and correlate them with environmental factors to provide accurate purchase opportunities without potential emotional and intellectual biases.
  • Property Developers could analyse data from the local environment and its communities to financially micromanage a development accurately from the amount paid for the land to the final selling price to maximise their investment without dramatically damaging community balances and affordability.
  • Property Management companies could utilise the data from customer engagements to accurately and swiftly provide a tailored customer service based around the individuals needs rather than providing a one service fits all stance.

Strangford Management have embraced the big data opportunity, constantly evolving our procedures and processes in order to ensure we are collecting and utilising the information to provide the most accurate customer service to our London property management clients.
Through our customer relationship management software we are able to provide a proactive, transparent service that provides a statistically measureable value to the management of your home.
Isn’t it time you embraced the big data trend too?
Enjoy the rugby world cup and good luck to the England Rugby Team!!
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