Fostering analyst opportunities in rugby

11 November 2022

The Rugby Data Science PhD opportunity comes under the Computer Science arm of the University with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.

The Chiefs Rugby Club is teaming up with the University of Waikato to offer a PhD research opportunity for an aspiring analyst.

The Rugby Data Science PhD opportunity comes under the Computer Science arm of the University with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.

The successful candidate will be tasked with analysing the Gallagher Chiefs daily training and match data to explore which metrics could be considered key influencers of a winning performance.  This will primarily involve analysis of rugby tracking and event data, with the findings ultimately used as part of team strategy and will contribute to selection processes.

The project will be supervised by Professor Albert Bifet, Director of the Te Ipu o te Mahara AI Institute at the University of Waikato. Bifet's extensive research on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Science and Machine Learning for Data Streams will provide a wealth of knowledge for the successful candidate to tap into.

The research will be analysed from a range of Gallagher Chiefs data sources including GPS units, gym-based force and power assessments, wellness screening forms, anthropometry, injury data and coach reviews.

Chiefs Rugby Club General Manager of Performance Wayne Maher said, "being clear on what is critical to performance is essential in high performance sport. Collecting and monitoring performance metrics on and off the field is fundamental to evidence-based performance and decision making.”

“The immediate opportunity is focused on consolidating our core data. However, what is exciting is the longer-term aim of separating the signal from the noise when determining what contributes to a winning performance," continued Maher.

University of Waikato, Te Huataki Waiora - School of Health Senior Lecturer Dr Martyn Beaven is excited about the potential of the collaboration between the two areas of study and the Chiefs Rugby Club.

“It might be an unusual space for someone who is really into data science and computers to find themselves in, but the opportunities to learn and grow from this are immense - both in terms of analytics but also sporting knowledge.

“You can’t be an expert in everything but we can guide and learn from each other. This role will have the opportunity to get as deep into the rugby as they want, or just focus on the data. It’s an amazing chance to use machine learning to provide practical, game-changing input into one of Aotearoa’s most beloved pastimes.”

Applications are now open for those interested and eligible for this PhD opportunity.

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