Carling embracing data for greater rugby insight

When Will Carling was captaining England to Grand Slam titles, the data at his disposal was limited to say the least.

When Will Carling was captaining England to Grand Slam titles, the data at his disposal was limited to say the least.

But the former England skipper has been happy to embrace new technology and believes two key Matchstats, powered by AWS, are able to give the best insight into rugby.

For Carling it is Turnovers and Dominant Tackles which best illustrate how and why a game is won and how momentum can shift.

And he explained why on an appearance on the Pocket-lint podcast this week.

He said: “The data is there to help unravel the game to fans because rugby can be a fairly complex game. If you can present great data, they give insight and give a feel as why a certain team in a game is dominating and doing well.

“There’s been a huge amount of thought and effort as to what those stats should be. So when you look at Kick Predictor, Visits to the 22, Rucks, Turnovers, Dominant Tackles, the Power Game, those key analytics are what determine successful and less successful teams in rugby.

“Visits to the 22, that shows you precision and ruthlessness of a team.”

But when asked which Matchstats he considers the most useful, Carling replied: “I’m caught between Dominant Tackles and Rucks and Turnovers. Turnovers can really be crucial in matches, but so can Dominant Tackles, so somewhere between those two really gives you a feel of a team and how they can win a game.”

Carling’s view is backed up by the results of the first two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations. Of the six games played, only once has the team with fewer Dominant Tackles emerged victorious – Scotland’s win over England in Round One.

And a look at France’s win over Ireland in Dublin last Sunday reveals that the French made nine Dominant Tackles to none from their hosts, a huge disparity that may have swung the game considering Ireland were attacking at the end but could not get into scoring range.

Carling also believes rugby needs to look at the way other sports have embraced data and ensure it takes a forward-thinking approach to appeal to fans.

He added: “Rugby has got to be very aware of how other sports are developing, how fans’ appetites change for information. If that is the way sport is going, and I think it is in a lot of areas, then rugby has to look at that.

“My younger children when you watch sport with them, they love the data, they love the information. They want to know how fast players are, they want to know how afar that kick was. That’s something rugby needs to be aware of. It would be amazing if you could sit and watch a game and see for example Jonny May just covered 40 yards in a certain time, he’s quite fast isn’t he! That’s the bit that people would find brilliant.”

With the help of Matchstats, powered by AWS, Carling has been giving his views after each round of the Guinness Six Nations and will continue to do so throughout the Championship.

AWS Rugby Ambassador Will Carling is a former England Team captain. Every week, he will share his insights and explore the impact of Matchstats – powered by AWS on each round of the Guinness Six Nations, along with selecting his Team of the Week.