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IRFU Analytica 2020 Webinar – Day 1 Discussion Topics Explored

IRFU Analytica 2020 Webinar – Day 1 Discussion Topics Explored

Ahead of Day 1 of IRFU Analytica 2020 Webinar we are going to take a closer look at the panels and the topics they will be discussing.

The IRFU’s Analytics Department is delighted with the support that the webinar is receiving from sports professionals, data scientists and engaged sports fans around the world.  A fantastic line-up of speakers has been assembled over the two days and all monies raised will go to our nominated charity Pieta House.

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Registration capacity is limited and at a cost of €30 per person.  Recordings of panels will be available with purchase if unavailable to view live.

All times shown are IST/GMT+1

12:00 – The Plan: Preparation for Winning Performance:

Giles Lindsay (National Lead for Performance Analysis, England and Wales Cricket Board)

Emmet Farrell (Head Analyst and Kicking Coach, Leinster Rugby)

Paul Brand (Head of First Team Analysis, Manchester United)

The opening panel is themed around the analytical preparation behind elite performance. Normally a ‘restricted area’, our panelists will discuss some of the methods and processes involved in getting a team to the optimal level of preparedness, while dealing with the complex challenges of elite sport. The panel will discuss…

  • how much information is too much information?
  • when is information delivered, and is there such thing as ‘optimal time’?
  • how do coaches and analysts account for different learning styles of players?
  • to what degree does data influence the construction of a gameplan?
  • does a change in coaching structure change the approach to preparation from an analysts point of view?

12:45 – Who’s Next – The Role of Analytics in Player Development:

Kate Burke (Senior Analyst and Head of Pathway Analysis, Insight Analysis & RFU)

Andrew Findlay (Head of Performance Analysis, Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Peter Smyth (Head of Elite Player Development, IRFU)

The second panel of the day focusses on the role of analytics in the identification and development of players. With more data than ever before available to organisations, the challenge for coaches, analysts and managers is to extract the meaningful metrics from a sea of numbers. The balancing act of utilising these numbers alongside a coach’s own philosophies, methods and opinion is sure to provide interesting discussion. The panel will discuss…

  • how organisations recruit and retain players
  • how professional football teams optimise value in the transfer market
  • the role of data and inherent challenges in the early identification of players
  • how players are tracked throughout their careers

13:30 – DON’T – Talk Data to Me!:

Johnny Sexton (Player and Captain, Ireland & Leinster)

Jonny Cooper (Player, Dublin GAA)

Colin Byrne (US Open Winning Caddie)

The third panel of the day shifts the focus to the player. Athletes have more sports science support and information available to them than ever before. Little is known about the consumption of data and analytics by players and to what extent they engage with the process. Adding US Open winning caddie Colin Byrne to the mix of World Player of the Year 2017 Johnny Sexton, and 6 time All Ireland Football winner Jonny Cooper will give the audience a unique insight to the variety of approaches to elite performance. The panel will discuss…

  • the performance analysis habits of elite athletes
  • to what extent do both video and data impact preparation
  • is there a saturation point?
  • how do athletes review their own performance?
  • how is the message delivered from coach to player, or from caddie to golfer

14:30 – Changing the Game – the Role of Live Match Analysis:

Johnny Bradley (Programme Director MSc Sports Performance Analysis, IT Carlow)

Amber Luzar (Performance Analysis Technical Lead, England & GB Hockey)

George Murray (Head Performance Analyst, Munster Rugby)

Across all codes of sport, analysts and coaches work together to identify trends, spot weakness and find opportunities during games. In many sports, coach’s boxes can resemble scenes associated more with the interior of an Air Traffic Control tower, with the performance analyst at the hub. The interventions and tactical changes made from here can represent the winning or losing of games, titles and in some cases, an Olympic medal! The panel will discuss…

  • the setup of the modern coaching box
  • selecting the correct data streams to be available to coaching staff
  • how trends are identified during games and the process of making meaningful on-field change
  • how to maximise the quality of half time feedback
  • the curveballs… red cards and rain storms

15:15 – Industry, Innovation & Sport – Does Sport Lead or Follow?:

Simon Kavanagh (Head Performance Analyst, Connacht Rugby)

Andy Whale (Data Scientist, IRFU)

Mick O’Keeffe (CEO, Teneo Ireland)

The intersection of sports analytics and industry has led to some of the biggest changes in performance analysis processes. Many of the tools and methods utilized in sport, were first practiced in industries such as finance, retail and aviation. Sports teams look outside sport to seek ideas and novel approaches to similar challenges.  The panel will discuss …

  • some of the tools and methods that have made their way from business to sport
  • the visualization of and interactivity of data streams
  • big data’s impact on sport in recruitment, retention and performance
  • how organisations collect, mine and utilise data to make meaningful change
  • practical applications of implementation of these methods for coaches and managers

16:00 – Data in the Drafts:

Meghan Chayka (CEO and Co-Founder, Stathletes Inc.)

Todd Ramasar (NBA Agent and CEO, Life SME)

Ethan Young (Director of Strategic Intelligence, UCLA Football)

North American sport is famed for its data driven approach in sports like baseball, basketball and hockey. In the NFL, teams of analysts work with scouts and general managers to scour college talent in search of the right fit for their organization. Over 15 million people tuned in to watch Round 1 of the 2020 NFL draft alone. Finding undervalued talent in the markets and drafts, and modelling likely performance, has created a new battlefield away from the courts, ice and fields.  The panel will discuss …

  • the role of data science in recruitment, specifically the drafts
  • how North American player identification and valuation differs to European models
  • how some teams are considered ‘data’ driven, while others still prefer traditional scout based recruitment
  • selling the argument; the delivery of heavy statistical inferences to an non-mathematical audience
  • why neither Tom Brady or Michael Jordan were picked 1st in the draft, and Wayne Gretzky was never even drafted!