The BNZ Crusaders are the most decorated Super Rugby franchise in history. Having won the competition 10 times, including the last three consecutively championships, the Canterbury-based club are a dominant force in southern hemisphere rugby.
We recently visited the Crusaders’ training ground to speak to Mitch Drummond and Bryn Hall, the team’s two senior half-backs, to get a player’s perspective on the benefits of Catapult athlete tracking technology.
When it comes to engaging and interacting with performance data, Hall and Drummond use the information to monitor their workloads and also to spark a little bit of friendly competition.
“The Catapult system is pretty crucial to our performance,” says Hall. “Our performance trainer gets the data and gets us to look at our metres and whether or not we’re reaching our targets. For us as competitive people, we tend to have a little competition to see who can run the fastest or who can run the most. But our trainer is pretty good at trying to stop that and help us get the load that we need, so Catapult has been crucial.”
For Drummond, who made his Test debut for the All Blacks in November 2018, receiving objective data is key to staying on track in terms of meeting performance targets.
“We have a lot of interaction with our data,” Drummond says. “It’s always nice to see how much further I’m running that Bryn and how much faster I’m going than him! We have daily targets that we need to meet and the Catapult system helps us to keep track of how much we’re doing in each session.”
The Metrics That Matter
The Catapult system produces a wealth of performance data, but it’s important that coaches work with players to communicate key insights while avoiding information overload.
When it comes to GPS, Hall and Drummond both like to keep it simple and focus on distance covered, metres per minute and speed.
“The metric that I’m looking at when using the Catapult system is speed because that’s where I’ve got the big fella (Drummond)! We tend to go back and forth when it comes to metres because we’re in the same position and run a similar amount of metres, but speed is definitely the one that I’m looking to.”
Hall is complimentary about the Crusaders’ S&C staff providing the players with the impetus to use the system and the information they need to succeed; offering the insights that can make the biggest impact on the field.
“There’s a bit of competition that I think comes with the territory of being able to see the data that comes from the GPS system,” Hall explains. “The S&C team has done really well around giving us what we need, whether that’s data in terms of speed or maybe metres per minute.”
Understanding The Benefits
Having worked with Catapult technology for several seasons, both Drummond and Hall appreciate the benefits of GPS data when it comes to performance optimisation and injury risk reduction.
“In terms of staying injury free, the technology allows us to manage our loads and not do too much or too little,” says Drummond. “In terms of getting better as rugby players there’s no hiding anymore. You can’t hide because the Catapult system tracks all of our metres, so if you’ve been lazy then you get caught out!”
Playing in an international club competition like Super Rugby, the players need to juggle training with an extensive travel schedule that can negatively impact performance if not managed carefully. Drummond believes that the Catapult system has been crucial in this area.
“With the travel, the system helps us to manage our loads so we’re aware of how much we’re doing in a session,” he says. “The coaches can then alter our sessions depending on what we need and it’s made everyone a bit more aware of how we’re training.”