We talked to Matt Coleridge, Performance Analyst for Macclesfield Blues

Tell us about your role at Macclesfield Rugby Club?

My main role is as the Performance Analyst for the 1st Team, which means I am cutting the video clips for players and coming up with the stats for the players and coaches to assess how we are performing.

Secondly, during last season and into this season I have taken over the team related media duties. So all the match reports and all the BluesTV content is produced by me and that’s my monotone voice you can here asking the questions in the interviews. 

It’s a lot of work on top of my full time job but it is enjoyable and I do feel like it’s helping the club on and off the pitch so it’s worthwhile.

What made you come to Macclesfield Rugby Club/ How long have you been at Macc Rugby?

I was doing the Performance Analyst role at Preston Grasshoppers, where I spent 3 enjoyable seasons, and so had also worked with Howard Hughes (former Macc team manager) at Lancashire U18s and Giles Heggerty (Macc director of rugby) at England counties u18s and the two of them convinced me to make the switch. They were and still 2 people I have immense respect for and so I leapt at the chance to work with them again, and Macclesfield had just added Marshall Gadd and Paul Millea as players to an already formidable squad so I also hoped we could win N2N, and we did, and I fancied a crack at National One to help boost my professional ambitions and I got that too so the decision was definitely vindicated.

I’m in my 3rd season with Macc now, and I am enjoying it still, we are in a tough run at the moment, but there are a lot of good teams in our league this year, we have suffered a long list of injuries but we have blooded some youngsters and from my perspective we are doing some great work behind the scenes on analysis that you will probably never hear about in afraid but trust me when I say we are working very hard!

Where were you before/previous experience, and how is it relevant to your current role at Macclesfield Rugby?

Funnily enough I have come into the Performance Analysis field via a different route to many who are in it, in that my full time job is as a Police Intelligence Analyst so a lot of the techniques and systems I have implemented have actually been picked up from that side of things. Analysis in my opinion is less of a skill and more of a state of mind, all that changes is what the subject is, so I trade in Crime Pattern Trends for Rugby. It has been a massive help in terms of drilling down into data and helps the coaches get what they want out of my work. It sounds nuts but it actually is an asset I think sets me apart from a lot of people in the business because they don’t have experience identifying data gathering opportunities or how to interrogate it.

As mentioned, I was at Preston Grasshoppers and I picked a lot up there as during that time we had some coaches who were involved in the pro game and had links to their clubs so I did a lot of fact finding and shadowing visits to places like Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Athletic Football Club and did some bits of work with some of those.

I worked with Huddersfield Giants for a bit in Super League to pick up some good experience and won the League Leaders’ Shield in that time which was nice. And as mentioned I also worked with Lancashire age groups which led to meeting Giles at England U18s who I went on the Ireland and France tours with.

As for the media side of things I have only a little experience from doing some freelance video work for Warrington Wolves in the last 2 years, I am pretty much winging it but hope that people are enjoying reading what I rant…I mean write and the BluesTV highlights.

What achievement are you most proud of? Either on or off the pitch?

On the pitch would be the National 2 title in 2014-15. I like to think I had a hand in our achievement that year and thoroughly enjoyed the whole season, start to finish. Off the pitch, I guess being chosen to do the Analysis for the England U18’s tours was an honour, but if I am honest I think the biggest achievement is actually juggling this role with a full time job, a dog and managing to just about keep my wife Louise on side. I think when she met me and I was working for 4 different rugby teams she must have thought ‘what the hell is he doing and where do I fit in’. We have been through a lot over the years and dealt with a lot of things that many people will never know about so not to sound too soft but to be still doing this job is an achievement in itself.

What is the worst mistake you’ve made?

I think biggest mistake was choosing to go with Katy Perry’s Hot & Cold for my initiation song on the bus back from Stourbridge 2 years ago…I forgot all the words, did a terrible rendition and got rinsed by the lads as a result but hey, all part of the process I guess.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

In all honesty I don’t really ‘enjoy’ the media as such but it is fun to see something you write in black and white print and to be the one to bring the highlights to the fans as they are a passionate and supportive bunch. I more enjoy the analysis side of things. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group and the sense of being part of something, being a cog in the wheel.

Most of all though the 2 things I like most are the learning experience I get from working with the coaches, I have learnt so much about the game from Marshall Gadd in areas of the game I didn’t have a clue about before like the set pieces but the number one thing for me is the rewarding feeling I get when I provide something that has a direct impact, such as if I provide a stat that leads to us amending aa tactic or selecting a player that makes a difference, perhaps I notice something in a players technique and it is delivered back to them, or even in our opposition preparation I see something that the players act on and gives us the edge in a match.

What does this involve? Tell us a little about your day-to-day activity for the club?

Well, my role now is twofold – primarily I and the Performance Analyst for the 1st Team which essentially involves coming up with the criteria and means of recording and monitoring performance of the team and players, and putting in place the infrastructure to do that in conjunction with the coaches. We do that using something called KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) which are the criteria that reflects how well tactics have been carried out in the team context or how well some one has done the role expected of them from a player perspective.

In very simple terms a team KPI would be the number of phases we have put tithe there, and a player KPI would be getting over the gain-line for a forward for example. I am also responsible for using video and statistics to prepare the coaches and in turn the players for upcoming opposition, as well as feeding video and data back into the coaches during the game to try and help give direction during the matches.

And then there are a lot of off the cuff tasks Giles and Marshy ask for like ‘how many times did that happen or that happen’or ‘can you get me all the videos of this or that happening’ but. I won’t bore you anymore with that haha!

The other part of the role is the media element and that has been interesting as I had never really had any respect for the press side of things and although I was interested in a sports journalism role when I was a kid I never really have had any intention of doing that role, but when the media guy left last year someone needed to step in and I volunteered.

At first a lot of my reports were really middle of the road and safe, for want of a better phrase, but then I decided that was just boring so now they are far more edgy and I wouldn’t say biassed but certainly more of a Blues’ fan’s perspective. I acknowledge the opposition of course but at the end of the day I just say it how I see it now. 

It’s a lot of work on top of my full time job but it is enjoyable and I do feel like it’s helping the club on and off the pitch so it’s worthwhile.

Where do you see the future of Macclesfield Rugby? And what is going to be your role in securing this future for the club?

Well, I think that the blend of the players we have in terms of age and experience stands us in good stead for the long term. Players like Tom Burden, Tom Poole, Lewis Winterbottom, Joe Palmer and Sam Parry forcing their way into the first team is healthy for us going forward, and them learning off the likes of Tom Mantell, Ryan Parkinson and Tom Davenport is great for their development.

When the club move into the new facility (when it is built, im not sure when that is) they will have a shiny new ground to match their ambitions. A period of stability this season would be a good thing allowing Giles to blood these youngsters while planning some recruitment and build from there. It might be nice if we can add a ladies team to our ranks.

I am no expert and pride myself on being one of the lads rather than one of the men upstairs but from my time here I have seen that the club has a very supportive committee and Mr Harper is an enthusiastic Exec who wants the best for the team and club so I believe the ship is being steered well. There could always be more investment but  I think the right people are out there chasing the right sponsors and making the right moves for Macclesfield Rugby.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Well at writing this we are 8 games in and its fair to say we are not performing as I had hoped so I guess I am looking forward to helping turn the run around, but in addition its nice not having trips to Plymouth and London every other weekend although that’s the kind of opposition you want to test yourself against.

I look forward to the new tasks and challenges that greet me as we go through a season and the mental stimulation I get from that, and from helping the team. But by April I cant wait for a bit of warm weather and to get back on the golf course haha.


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