Applying analytics and insight expertise to sports data

Simon Bittlestone - Managing DirectorSimon Bittlestone, Managing Director

Last week Metapraxis was delighted to sponsor the 135th Men’s Varsity Match, and the 31st Women’s Varsity Match, in which Oxford’s women gained a hard-fought 3-0 victory and Cambridge’s men ended their losing run with a 23-18 win. However, the day was notable for other reasons as well, as it saw the trial of the next generation of sports analytics.

For the first time in a rugby match, data on players’ speed, position, force and impacts were captured and provided to fans and coaches in real time. Powered by wearable sensors from start-up Sportable, the new technology is an exciting step forward; and as analytics sponsor we are bringing our expertise in analysing complex data sets for businesses to the challenge, by helping to analyse and display this data in a simple but insightful way for spectators during the game.

As sporting competition becomes more intense, so the recipe for success in sport grows more complex. This is not unlike the world of business, where talent, dedication and team spirit are no longer necessarily enough to ensure effective performance. In both sport and business collecting the right data and analysing it effectively to provide actionable insight can create a competitive advantage.

In sport, as in business, analysis is only effective if it is timely, detailed and focused on what matters. That is why the technology trialled at the Varsity Match represents such an advance on what is currently used by rugby teams to analyse performance. Much like more traditional forms of business analysis technology, the technologies currently used in rugby and other sports can tell players and coaches what has happened during a game, but not what is happening currently and also what might happen.

It is likely to be transformational to the way coaches coach, physios protect players, players manage their impact and fans engage with sport. We are delighted to be bringing our financial analytics expertise to help with the development of this solution and proud to be the analytics sponsors of the Varsity Match, who have offered the opportunity to test this technology in a real game scenario. Look out for more on this in next year’s game!

Our work with this year’s Varsity Match was covered on Radio 4’s Today Programme, which featured interviews with the players, with Sportable Technologies, and myself. If you’d like to listen to the programme, you can do so here, with the relevant part of the programme at 23:48.

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