The analyst who sits alongside Andy Farrell during Ireland games is Vinny Hammond, an experienced and influential member of the Ireland set-up. Hammond has been an integral part of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) since 2008, starting as a performance analyst and now holding the position of ‘head of analytics and innovation’ within the union.
Having previously been a player and coach for UCD RFC, Hammond leads Ireland’s analysis of their own performances and studies opposition teams. Additionally, he oversees the implementation of various technologies for the team. He has been a part of two Lions tours in 2017 and 2021 and is currently actively involved in Ireland’s pursuit of a World Cup title under Farrell’s leadership.
During Ireland’s games, you’ll often see Hammond and Farrell celebrating key moments when the coach cam is shown, reflecting the team’s success. However, Hammond emphasizes that the environment is usually composed, despite the excitement of the games. The challenge, especially in noisy stadiums like Stade de France, lies in communication, with both Hammond and Farrell using aviation headsets to relay messages from the touchline due to the loud noise generated by Irish fans.
Hammond is one of three analysts accompanying the Ireland team in France for the World Cup, alongside John Buckley and Alan Walsh. They are supported by two “data guys” in Dublin, focusing on analyzing future opponents and managing the extensive volume of training and game data in collaboration with the on-ground team in France.
Regarding his role on match days, Hammond provides real-time analysis and insights to the coaches by observing the unfolding plays during the game and reviewing multi-angle footage during breaks. His goal is to confirm or identify specific occurrences that were anticipated during their preparations, offering valuable perspectives that coaches might not have noticed.
In addressing the analytical approach within the coaching staff, Hammond acknowledges the reputation of renowned coaches like Joe Schmidt for their analytical prowess. However, he emphasizes that the entire coaching team, including Andy Farrell, Simon Easterby, Mike Catt, Paul O’Connell, and John Fogarty, possesses strong analytical minds. Each coach brings their unique strengths and insights, contributing collectively to the team’s success.
Hammond also delves into the statistical aspect of his role, highlighting how some statistics, such as missed tackles, can be misleading without proper context. He mentions that teams employing an aggressive defensive strategy with high linespeed may record more missed tackles, but this approach can be effective in restricting opponents and ultimately lead to conceding fewer points.