Analytics are increasingly used in elite sport to gain a competitive advantage, but does such a reliance on statistics overshadow the role of a coach?
• Watch highlights of the debate online
When Wales meet England for the opening match of the Six Nations rugby union championship on Friday, it will be as much a battle of statistics and data as of raw rugby-playing talent.
Rugby coaches are increasingly relying on the insights from research and real-time analytics to plan their strategies and make their team selections. But has this obsession with data gone too far, taking the human touch out of the game and turning elite sports into a statistical showdown?
“As a coach you follow the ball a lot and by necessity you are not looking at your team and the opposition. The detail and information from technology is absolutely vital.”
“You actually need the insight and experience to look at what the data is telling you and use it to advise you rather than just blindly following it. Otherwise we could all be international rugby coaches.”
“There are drivers who see it as Big Brother looking down on you and monitoring you and it’s not, it’s an aid to help you, to back you up.”
“As coaches you started the game with a game plan and you used stats based on what you got from previous games, but at what point do you go ‘right, I’m not relying on stats any more, I’m going to have to now change my game plan’?”
“Once you multiply all those hormonal responses, you end up with something entirely charged with unpredictability and I think this leads to a huge sporting drama.” Continue reading...