Belfast Telegraph

Kiwi rugby teams to monitor fitness using Northern Ireland technology

By Margaret Canning

Three New Zealand Super Rugby teams have signed up to use sports monitoring technology developed by Newry firm STATSports.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

The separate deals with the Blues, Hurricanes and Chiefs adds to the company's list of professional rugby teams including the national sides of England, Ireland and France as well as club sides including Saracens, Leinster, Racing 92 and Wasps.

Leinster Rugby became the company's first client in 2009.

STATSports' technology is also used by soccer teams across the English Premier League and La Liga, as well as American football and basketball bodies the NFL and NBA.

In addition, last year the company announced a deal with the US Soccer Federation worth up to £1bn.

In rugby, STATSports' Apex system can track every individual collision and analyse each scrum to give timing and return-to-feet statistics for individual players, as well as standard metrics such as speed, distance, accelerations, decelerations and more.

Sean O'Connor, co-founder and chief operating officer of STATSports, said: "We're delighted to have signed up with three of the clubs we most admire in world rugby. Our technology means they'll be able to get deep insight into the performance of their players and make sure that each and every one of them are operating at the peak of their abilities."

David Gray, head of physical performance at the Hurricanes, said: "We are obviously excited from a performance perspective because the APEX system will help us to more accurately track players in training and in games and allow us to make adjustments in real time.

"We believe it will go a long way to bringing them back seamlessly and allow us to assess how much we can load on them.

"It will also allow us to accurately track exactly how much work a player has done in terms of his running outputs, his contacts, his collisions, his scrum efforts and his density of work to make sure we get the right performance on game day."

In September last year, STATSports announced a multi-million pound expansion creating 237 jobs.

STATSports said it would also invest £5.5m in a major new research and development programme, creating another 26 posts. Economic development agency Invest NI offered the company £4m.

STATSports' nearest competitor is Australian firm Catapult Sports but in an interview with Business Telegraph last year, co-founder Alan Clarke said he believed his company has the edge when it comes to sealing deals.

He said: "Being Irish is good. We're often seen as friendly and neutral and there aren't many egos here as you would find in a lot of other nations. We also have huge technology companies here and when it comes to innovation and creation, Ireland's pretty much up there and that helps."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular