Alex Ross of the Auckland Blues stopped by to speak with the SMBA cohort. An SDSU Undergraduate and Graduate Alumni, Alex recently finished his Ph.D. at the Auckland University of Technology and is currently Sports Science Manager for the Super Rugby team. Ross played rugby both domestically in the United States and Internationally for the USA Eagles. His playing career, combined with his academic success in kinesiology and eventually sports science make him the ideal candidate to head up the sports science effort for the Auckland Blues. During his Ph.D. Alex has had the opportunity to work with the New Zealand All Blacks, the most successful rugby team in the world. With his background in sports science and rugby, Ross visited class to explain the Super Rugby landscape and how sports science impacts the game.
Alex covered various aspects of sports science and how the Auckland Blues have implemented science into their training and performance strategies. A common theme from Ross was using data and scientific method to take an objective view on decision making. By removing many of the typical subjective measures used to make decisions on player health and performance, the Blues are pushing the forefront of the sports analytics revolution. The Blues are using various technologies and data including GPS, heart rate monitors, accelerometers and personal questionnaires to obtain daily data from their players on and off the field. The 360 degree approach has assisted the Blues in reducing soft tissue injuries and maximize players’ ability and performance. Before his departure, Ross indicated that the future of sports analytics is bright as the Blues are continuing to expand their data capturing capacities. The Blues are working with computer and software companies to develop new tools to capture and evaluate objective measures. At the end of the day, all of the science and data analysis is to increase the Blues’ chances to win. With more data over time, we’re sure the Blues will see dividends in the form of player performance and win percentage.