AI and Data are boosting the performance of the French national rugby team
Photo credits: Julien Poupart / FFR
Leveraging SAS Analytics for competitive advantage.
matches won out of 20
(From start of partnership in 2021 until April 2023)
The French Rugby Federation (FFR) counts on Artificial Intelligence to drive better decision-making
Mindful of the role that new technologies can play, the French Rugby Federation has signed a partnership with SAS, the analytics leader, to use data in the decision-making process of French rugby staff and teams.
The genesis of the project dates back to 2021. At the end of the annual Six Nations Tournament, the entire staff, under the impetus of Fabien Galthié, decided to meet with SAS in order to use data to improve the team's performance. The collaboration started with a series of workshops and discussions to clarify the challenges faced by the French national team. The result: a platform adapted to the needs of the team.
"We are extremely proud to collaborate with the FFR. This partnership combines our love of rugby and our ambition to put the potential of new technologies and our know-how in terms of innovation at the service of sportsmen and women from all over the world," said Jean-François Sebastian, Managing Director of SAS France.
"The French Rugby Federation is pleased to be able to use the cutting-edge technology provided by SAS to improve the performance of the French teams. These decision-making applications, developed in synergy with the staff of the French national team, represent a major asset at the heart of the performance challenges of our sport.” Laurent Gabbanini - General Manager of the French Rugby Federation.
The demands of national team staff for sports data analysis are increasing. This collaboration with SAS is a real opportunity to raise our level of analysis thanks to their software and expertise in the field of data science. Julien Piscione Head of the Performance Support Department for the French Rugby Federation
Data, an important decision-making asset for the staff of the French national team
Everything started with a specific mission: to study and optimize the performance of the players from the touchline. Crucial aspects of play, for example lineouts, were scrutinized to help Karim Ghezal, a member of the coaching staff, to guide his decisions on the team’s set piece strategies.
Subsequently, the collaboration quickly expanded to include other actions in the game: scrum, footwork, rucks, etc. Thanks to the data and analysis provided by SAS on strategic aspects of the game, the French national team now has a major decision-making resource.
"GPS data, game actions during matches, training sequences... We process and analyse a whole series of information to extract the game characteristics of the French national team, but also of its opponents," explains Charlotte Douette, FFR Project Manager and Data Scientist at SAS.
After each new match or training session, the SAS Viya platform is able to automatically update each report sent to the French national team staff. Coaches can rely on exhaustive reports, supported by video and adapted dashboards. The automation has saved time for the users (from video analysts to sports scientists) and has enabled them to be more reactive to the coaches' requests.
“The demands of national team staff for sports data analysis are increasing. This collaboration with SAS is a real opportunity to raise our level of analysis thanks to their software and expertise in the field of data science. As of now, our coaches, physical trainers, performance analysts and data scientists are in constant interaction with SAS to develop concrete statistical analyses related to our performance (touches, fouls, etc.) or that of our opponents, thus constituting an undeniable competitive advantage.”
Julien Piscione, Head of the Performance Support Department for the French Rugby Federation.
And the results have been convincing. Since the partnership with SAS, the French national team has won 19 of its 20 matches, including a Grand Slam victory in the 6 Nations Tournament 2022 - a first in 12 years!
French Rugby Federation (FFR) – Facts & figures
international matches analyzed on SAS® Viya®
matches won since using SAS® Viya®
the number of unique data points captured per match
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