The England rugby team should use player data in a more effective way, according to former England rugby union and Wasps star James Haskell.
Talking to the Pocket-lint Podcast, Haskell explained that technology use in the sport has grown dramatically, but hasn’t always been utilised effectively: “I think technology has changed rugby dramatically. Whether it’s for the better, I’m still open minded about that,” he told us.
“My issue is that we have access to a lot of data, but we don’t use it in the right way.
“I think data should lead to far more individualised training and should be much more focused on player health and welfare.”
However, he admits that the new regime in charge of England’s coaching setup is moving in the right direction: “I think Eddie Jones is different in his approach and has used data a lot more. I think that’s pretty special,” he added.
Haskell announced his retirement in August 2019, having earned 77 caps for England between 2007 and 2019.
During his playing career, data was captured but not necessarily effectively used afterwards. As he explained to us: “I used data throughout my career. I used data to track all my food, my diet, calories I was burning, distances I was travelling, my sleep patterns, heart rates and, for me, that’s been a real feature. It massively pervaded all of my life.
“Did it make me a better player? Hmm no,” admitted Haskell. “Because I don’t think the data was used in the right way. If they had individualised training for me, it might have been different. They just never utilised the data, so it was pointless.”
It’s something that he believes younger players need to be much aware of: “In this country we are over-coached. I know Eddie [Jones] has said that a number of times. I think it’s important to note that talent gets you so far, but it’s just one picture. Stats give you another picture, and emotion and feel for the game is another. You have to combine all three and never lose sight that you have to use all three together.”
And as for other tech in rugby, like TMO?
“I’m not a fan of slow motion. Slow motion creates more issues. I think it takes away the emotion,” he revealed.
“Everything we do has emotion. We are humans. If a robot did a high tackle, then it’s a fault with programming. If a human does that, was it emotion? Was it wrong? Was it mistimed? Was the guy ducking? Was he trying to milk a penalty?
“They are obviously trying to make the game safer, but you can’t have it both ways. I’ve no problem with it as long as it’s used in the right way and the people interpreting it are doing it in the right way.”
You can listen the full interview on the latest Pocket-lint Podcast out this Friday.
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