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European Rugby Challenge Cup with ASM Clermont Nacsport machine

Preparing for a game with Nacsport – ASM Clermont Auvergne – Part 1

Reading time: 5 minutes

Part 1 – “Identifying Opportunities

As European Rugby Challenge Cup Winners in 2018-19 and runners up in the Top 14, ASM Clermont Auvergne certainly know a thing or two about preparing for games and competing at the highest levels. Key to the team’s preparations are the insights and resources created by the performance analysis team, Joe Larkin and Franck Vuilbert.

In these previous blogs (Part 1 and Part 2), we introduced you to Joe and Franck’s performance analysis processes with the team, giving an overview of how video analysis is used throughout the week by the French rugby team. In this new two-part series, Joe talks us through how the team prepares for a game, specifically looking at the way they create Presentation Windows in Nacsport, with the coaches and players also building content and utilising the KlipDraw Animate telestration tools to identify opportunities to get the upper hand on their opponents.

Joe Larkin - ASM Clermont Auvergne Rugby Performance Analyst

Matchday: T – 10

Attack Opportunities

The coaches receive a preview Presentation Window (.pre) based on the opportunities presented by our opponents. This includes the last 5 games of the opponent, with maybe a few key matches added such as big European matches or games they have lost against opponents who play similarly to us.

Various aspects of the game are separated into lists – for example, our next opponents defending a scrum from the left-hand side, middle or right-hand side, which is important as teams will change their defence due to the position of the scrum-half or back 3. Also, the distance from the try line will change players’ positioning.

The same is done for lineouts, but they are split by how wide the opponents are forced to defend, for example how they defend if you spread the play wide. This gives a coach the ability to see trends and potential strengths or weaknesses of teams. The coach can then work out if different personnel dictate that the team defend differently.

Another list features all line breaks the opponents have received, from all aspects of play. This allows the coach to spot potential weaknesses, like being weak around the ruck with their fold for example. These tend to be more phase play opportunities that identify general weaknesses. Where possible, our analysts will code these into our rugby language so we know which little phase play moves lead to line breaks.

The last list on this presentation focuses on high ball reception and specifically individual players who struggle to deal with catches from a kick. This can shape our game plan based on certain individuals.

Defence

The defensive coach watches the opponents attack from a similar group of games and creates a presentation. Lists are created for the opponents’ attacks from Lineout, Scrum, Counter (kick receipt) and Turnover. These lists are then coded into our language and trends start to emerge as to which plays the opponents like to use. Discussion then takes place as to how we can best defend these plays.

Set Piece

Following the same premise, the lineout coach / forward leaders receive a lineout .pre with a list of all lineouts (attacking and defensive) for the opponent. These are coded into our setups (the name of certain start positions, for example, a 3-1-3 set up) so the coach can then know which lineout setups the opponent struggles to defend, or the areas that are marked. Statistics of the whole season are also incorporated here; who is their main jumper, does this change when building a drive, etc.

This list is large with lots of clips, so through the following days, the coach will clip out the setups and lineouts that are of most interest to us and add to a separate list, which will be shared with the forward leaders through a filtering process. Often the video is exported (with notes and KlipDraws included) and sent remotely to the player’s phones/tablets to watch during treatment or away from the training center.

The scrum follows a similar process but this is controlled solely by the scrum coach as the data set is smaller and requires more expertise.

Matchday: T – 5

The Opportunities presentation document now becomes a live document that we import all of the other presentations lists into, as this serves as our main presentation window for presenting on the laptop.

Individual players within the team have specific areas that they lead; for example, 9&10 are generally attack leaders so they will be analysing the original attack opportunities presentation with the coach.

ASM Clermont Auvergne Players analysing and discussing with Nacsport

The players also have an Opposition preview .pre, which features multiple lists and sits on our shared server for editing. An example of the type of lists that sit on here is a “Counter Attack Opportunities” list containing 4 linked angles of each kick from the opponent that led to a counter-attack. Directly underneath this list is a blank “Player Counter Attack Opportunities” list. Players can then drag and drop interesting clips into this. They add notes, KlipDraws or rename the clip, for other players to see on the server. This is a neat way to work within the constraints of the Nacsport Viewer licences they use. This process is repeated across specific areas of the game and when necessary, the player opportunities lists are then exported and imported into the head coach’s main Opportunities presentation.

Set Piece

The coaches and senior players have filtered down the lineouts to the ones that we will use against the opponent and these are then practiced in training and reviewed. Small quick adjustments are made throughout the week as we practice how we will attack or defend against specific scenarios around lineout and scrum.

Attack

By now, the coaches and game leaders have created an “Attacking Opportunities Presentation” list that is ready to be presented to the whole squad. The original lineout and scrum attack opportunities clips (around 40 – 50 clips) will have been cut to 10 clips. Within this list, PowerPoint slides are imported to supplement the video. The clips will highlight an area of weakness of the opponent and KlipDraw animations are always incorporated to highlight a variety of triggers that aid our decision making, such as: Start positions of individual players which leaves space somewhere else / Perhaps they choose to defend with a back row inside of 10, etc. This will be immediately followed by the PowerPoint slide that shows the exact play we will run to exploit this. Think X’s and O’s on a flip chart, but without the flip chart!

There is no bouncing from Nacsport to Microsoft PowerPoint as it is a smooth integrated transition in the Presentation window, which is a great benefit for our delivery.

Essentially, what we are looking to show is: “Here is the opportunity and here is how we will exploit it”

Part 2 Next!

Make sure to read Part 2 to see how the presentations develop and are further refined in the last 4 days leading up to the match.

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