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Pasha 122: How video analysis benefits rugby

A recent rugby series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions, a tour that takes place every 12 years, was the subject of controversy. One of the reasons the tour made headlines was that the South African rugby director, Rassie Erasmus, released a video in which he challenged decisions made by the referee that went against his team. (South Africa won the series by 2-1.) The video is quite unusual, as criticism of referees is not common in world rugby. It went viral and caused a stir, dividing opinion globally.

Rassie clears the air.

Video analysis is important in sports science because it enhances understanding of what happened during a match. For example, it can show what movements, actions or techniques lead to a successful performance or to an injury. It can reduce the bias that’s inherent in human observation and help observers agree on the definitions of certain actions. It is useful in coaching, assisting with referees’ decisions, and creating medical protocols. The idea is to ensure that the game is safe and fair.

In today’s episode of Pasha, Sharief Hendricks, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, explains how video analysis can benefit rugby and considers whether videos like Erasmus’s are useful.

“Rassie Erasmus, the Springboks’ director of rugby, acting as a water carrier, talks to his captain Siya Kolisi during the second test match between South Africa’s Springboks and the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.” By David Rogers/Getty Images found on Getty Images

Music: “Happy African Village” by John Bartmann, found on licensed under CC0 1.

“"African Moon” by John Bartmann, found on licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal License.

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