www.ulsterrugby.com spoke to Ulster's video analyst, Simon McGookin, about his role with the team
What is your background and how long have you been with Ulster Rugby?
I have been in the role of Video Analyst with Ulster Rugby for 5 seasons now, having started during the last year of coach Alan Solomons, the 03-04 season. I came to Ulster Rugby with a background in IT, particularly programming and software development. I've been able to combine that Cup winner in 1986 with Bangor Grammar, and played at club level, more socially really, for Ballynahinch.
What does your role as Video Analyst involve?
The role is essentially to provide analysis of Ulster's team performances, individual player performances and opposition team performances. I use a software programme called Sportscode Pro, which allows you to view games, analyse them and break them down into areas giving specific statistical information.
After a match I will be able to produce a matrix on each individual player showing for example number of tackles, passes, carries, rucks, mauls, or on the negative side missed tackles, ineffective tackles, lost turnover ball etc.
This will allow the coaches to carry out a full analysis of each player. We have got six laptops and all of the players are expected to use them to view their own performance, as well as analysing the opposition.
With regard to the opposition, I will get footage of the last three games from our next opponents. I will then go through them with the coaches and we will look at each area of their game - attack, defence, lineouts, patterns.
With lineouts for example we will be trying to see what triggers they use for lineout calls etc Players will view the opposition tapes and we will then discuss them in team meetings, where players will put forward their views on game plans.
With regard to our own team performances, we have playing outcomes that we want to achieve during each match, as well as a positive result, in terms of points scored, possession, advantage gained, lineouts, good ball from the scrum, number of penalties, turnovers won etc. We will also look at phases and outcomes of plays, and their success
How have you found working with new coach Matt Williams?
Matt is an enjoyable guy to work for, with great enthusiasm and an extensive knowledge of the game. Obviously having a new boss is a big challenge, but an exciting one.
Matt has brought in new ideas already and will gradually continue to do so in terms of match analysis. From an analysis point of view, the Dragon's game were markedly improved. There were a 100% increase in turnover created, and a 300% increase in counter rucking. Own turnover ball lost was down considerably.
Do you carry out work for the Ulster Rugby Academy?
The Ulster Rugby Academy have their own video analyst to do similar work. A.I.L. matches are also filmed for purposes of the fringe squad players so that Matt and the coaches can see how those players not in the match 22 are progressing. Plus it can also be used to give the coaches an idea of any up and coming young club players.