Heaslip hails GPS as biggest tech innovation in rugby

Irish international talks of his World Cup disappointment

 Jamie Heaslip, right, Leinster Rugby, is interviewed by Ian Prior on the Centre Stage: “The France game with all that support was the most mental scene I’ve ever been involved in.”

Jamie Heaslip, right, Leinster Rugby, is interviewed by Ian Prior on the Centre Stage: “The France game with all that support was the most mental scene I’ve ever been involved in.”

 

Irish rugby international and Leinster player Jamie Heaslip reckons GPS is the biggest technological innovation in the game since he started playing rugby in 2005.

Speaking at the Web Summit he described how Leinster was one of the first northern hemisphere sides to adopt the technology - consisting of small GPS units worn in the jerseys. It has led to an explosion of data and statistics, allowing for targeted improvements on the coaching side of things.

Looking fully recovered from World Cup disappointment he was asked about this thoughts on the competition. “This is the first time I’ve actually talked about it,” said Heaslip. “It was a bit of a rollercoaster. We were obviously upset we got knocked out at the quarter finals in the way we did. I’m proud of the guys, we clawed back in to that game against Argentina... The support we got was great, the France game with all that support was the most mental scene I’ve ever been involved in.”

In a talk on the Web Summit’s main stage with the Guardian’s head of sport Ian Prior, Heaslip spoke about juggling his rugby career with a sideline investing in nascent technology firms.

And the link with GPS technology goes back to his ruby details: one of his earliest investments grew out of the GPS technology Michael Cheika introduced at Leinster back in 2008, and the potential for rich data analysis that arose.

Unsurprisingly, Heaslip is also big on the value of building teams. That’s a mantra that runs across both sport and technology - and with the start-ups arriving at their stands in the surrounding halls, there’s a lot of people who will be selling themselves as talented teams to investors eager to acquire potential as much as the start-up ideas themselves.