Swansea scientists enhance analysis of WRU for World Cup success
Experts from Swansea University’s College of Engineering and Department of Computer Science have been working with the Welsh Rugby Union to use novel technology for match analysis.
Currently, team analysts suffer from “information overload” due to the high level of detail with which they study the events of the match. This level of detail is often unnecessary when it comes to understanding the big picture of the team’s performance.
The Swansea University researchers have developed a visualization system, known as the MatchPad, that overcomes such problems associated with information overload. The MatchPad uses graphical notation and iconic representation of events to produce a visual timeline of the game so far. The analysts and coaches can review video and additional detail on the events they are most interested in simply by pressing the icon. The MatchPad runs as an ‘app’ on the Apple iPad. The portability of the device means this analysis can be performed in the analysis box, in the changing rooms, or even at pitch-side.
Dr Iwan Griffiths, heading up the project, comments ‘ The sports visualization team at Swansea have come up with a really innovative way of helping the Welsh team with their coaching and on-the-spot analysis. ’
The development of the software has been led by Dr Philip Legg, who says ‘The MatchPad incorporates data visualization of the match in a clear and intuitive interface that allows analysts to access the crucial information that they need quickly and efficiently. ‘
A prototype of the system has been developed, which the WRU have used in their recent International friendly matches at Millennium Stadium with great success. Rhys Long is the Head of Performance Analysis at the Welsh Rugby Union. He says, “The major benefit of the product is that it gives us a good overview of how the game is going. It has been a very good tool in terms of looking at key instances of the game and how they interact with each other.”
Following on from this success, the team has adopted the use of the MatchPad, which they now regard as a vital tool for their performance analysis. The WRU are using the MatchPad as part of their ongoing Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign.
The collaborative industrial research project is supported by the Welsh Government’s Academic Expertise for Business programme, which is funded through European Structural Funds. Swansea University will be hosting the first International Conference on Computational Sports Analysis in April 2012, which will showcase the latest innovations and collaborations between Sports Science and Computer Science.