Belfast Telegraph

Six Nations: IRFU touches down with stats tech deal

Irish contract: Sean O’Connor, the co-founder of STATSports
Irish contract: Sean O’Connor, the co-founder of STATSports
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Newry company STATSports has signed a deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) worth an undisclosed sum to provide its technology to professional rugby players all over Ireland.

The contract means STATSports will supply men and women players, plus the under-20s, with its new Apex device for tracking players during games and training.

And Leinster and Munster will join existing clients Ulster and Connacht provincial teams in using the products.

The GPS tracking device is worn on players' backs and provides feedback to coaching, performance and medical staff.

The devices are already in use by the French, English and South African rugby teams, so all players on the pitch in the France v Ireland game in tomorrow's Six Nations opener at the Stade de France in Paris will be wearing STATSports products.

Nick Winkelman, the IRFU's head of performance and science, said: "Having tested existing solutions on the market, it was clear that STATSports was a world-class business with a world-leading performance analysis solution in the Apex unit.

"In high-performance sport, and particularly in an environment where player welfare is a key priority, it is a necessity for our provinces and representative teams to have access to quality data that can inform and shape performance, recovery and injury prevention."

STATSports co-founder Sean O'Connor, said: "Having all four provinces using our revolutionary Apex device is huge for us at STATSports.

"We are proud to offer a world-class product to not only the national team but all four provincial teams throughout Ireland who compete at the highest level of club rugby in Europe. Plus, with STATSports being founded in the island of Ireland, it is even more significant."

The firm, which employs 40 people, was founded in Newry around 10 years ago. It also works with several Premier League football clubs and around half of the Championship teams in England.

In June last year it announced it would be working with the Scottish, Portuguese and Danish national football associations.

The technology developed by entrepreneurs Alan Clarke and co-founder Mr O'Connor can be used to measure the speed, distance covered, number of tackles and force used, as well as the force each foot strikes the ground with as the player runs.

In the US, STATsports customers include US Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy.

Belfast Telegraph