The relationship between the two organisations goes back to 2013 when NZ Rugby adopted SAS Visual Analytics to replace a spreadsheet-based reporting process.
Before, we were reliant on data collected by a third party which was also available to our competitors. Today, we import data from a very wide range of sources and use the SAS platform to get it all in one place to sanitise it and make ready for analysis and reporting
Since then, the ability of rugby’s national sporting body to take advantage of player, team, match and competitor data has come a long way, says Jason Healy, performance analytics manager at NZR.
“Before SAS, we were reliant on data collected by a third party which was also available to our competitors,” says Healy.
“Today, we import data from a very wide range of sources, including video, and use the SAS platform to get it all in one place to sanitise it and make ready for analysis and reporting.
“Where, with the old spreadsheet system, it could be one or two days before we produced something for the coaches, we can now do so within minutes of the data being available. SAS saves a huge amount of time dealing with massive volumes of data.”
The analytics platform
NZR collects and manages data for all national teams including the All Blacks on the SAS platform as well as those playing in the international Investec Super Rugby competition and the national provincial competition, the Mitre 10 Cup.
Individual coaches use the system in different ways but all with the objective of seeking insights that can lead to improved player and team performance; better understanding competitors’ strengths; and challenge any biases.
Healy says the work with SAS has been ongoing for the past seven seasons, and the software provider became NZR’s “official analytics supplier” late last year.
Some coaches prefer customised reports, while others take advantage of the ease-of-use of the SAS platform to do their own exploring, he states.
“You don’t need an analytics background to get massive value out of the data,” he adds. “The beauty of our environment is that it gives the end-user coaches licence to go on their own journey with it.”
Alastair Sim, vice president of global marketing for SAS Asia Pacific, says the analytics firm is delighted to be recognised as an important contributor to the ongoing success of NZ Rugby and the All Blacks.
“SAS is widely used in sport around the world,” says Sim. “We look forward to continuing our analytics support for true champions of the sport that its followers everywhere call ‘the game they play in heaven’.”
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