Top-Flight Rugby Union Analysis at ASM Clermont Auvergne

By Duncan Ritchie

11-October-2021 on Users

13 minute read

ASM Clermont Auvergne are one of the grand old teams of France’s Top 14 Rugby Union League. Recent years have seen them secure several top 5 finishes in the French league, come runners up in the 2018/19 season and actually lift the trophy in 2016/17. Add to this a victory in the 2018/19 European Rugby Challenge Cup and you’ve got a team which earns a well deserved place in the upper echelons of rugby union lore.


Behind the scenes, there are high-end training facilities and top-flight support staff, including an analysis department which is constantly pushing boundaries, that stand ready to support the team to victory.


In this article, we hear from Clermont video analyst Joe Larkin who tells us about Clermont’s workflows and how they use Nacsport for analysing training sessions, matches and opposition analysis.


So, without further ado, let’s begin…

Joe Larkin, Franck Vuilbert and Stéphane Boiroux: The Analysis Dream Team


Before we begin, let’s introduce the protagonists of our story and the backbone of video analysis at Clermont: Joe Larkin, Franck Vuilbert and Stéphane Boiroux. 

Joe Larkin and Franck Vuillbert ASM Clermont Auvergne


We’ll kick off with Joe who has been working as a professional rugby analyst since 2006. Graduating from the University of Exeter, where he studied Sport and Exercise Science, Joe had stints at Bristol Rugby, Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins before being headhunted by the French team in 2017 to implement their planned video analysis systems. As well as heading up the analysis department at Clermont, Joe is also an RFU Level 3 qualified rugby coach.


And then we have Franck who started his career as a player at the ASM Academy before a serious motorcycle accident prematurely ended his rugby career. Filled with passion and not wanting to give up on the sport he loves, Franck retrained as a coach and performance analyst and is now in his 12th year at the club.


At this point, we'd also like to add that, since our visit, the team also has acquired a new member - Stéphane Boiroux. While our story focuses primarily on Joe and Franck, we are assured that there has been no radical change to their work processes, but the extra pair of hands does allow them to do more of everything. More drones, more cameras, more angles, more analysis.


So, apologies for the lack of pics of Stéphane! When we do a follow up to this article, we're sure he'll feature much more prominently!


Working together, Joe, Franck and Stéphane handle the majority of video analysis at Clermont which helps prepare the team for the rigours of Top 14 rugby.


Analysing Training Sessions


Being one of the most important rugby union leagues in the world, Top 14 rugby is big business nowadays. The state-of-the-art facilities at Clermont certainly attest to this. Fully-equipped gyms, pools, physio rooms and recovery areas...all the needs of the players and coaches are catered for. The following video will give you an exclusive look inside Clermont’s training complex:



Of course, it’s the training grounds that we are most interested in. This is where Nacsport enters the story. So, how do they analyse training sessions?


Joe tells us that, during a training session, it’s important that they capture as much video as possible. When performing a scrum analysis, for example, they usually work with video taken from 4 different angles. These are filmed using tablets with Nacsport Tag&view installed, fixed cameras and even drones, controlled by the ever versatile Franck.

Joe Larkin filming and using Tag&view for scrum analysis


Whilst filming, Joe tags the action live either using Tag&view or directly into Nacsport Elite. This speeds up the process when it comes to preparing video presentations for coaches and players to review.

ASM Clermont Scrum training with 4 camera angles


Meanwhile, Franck is capturing footage from the sky, often covering two angles at once and tagging using Nacsport’s Register without Video Source feature. Yes, you read that correctly, Franck flies two drones at once and tags whilst doing so. Talk about multi-tasking!

Franck Vuilbert controlling 2 drones and live tagging


Because it can handle all the used video formats, all captured video footage, alongside the associated tags, is fed into Nacsport and synced together.


Joe and Franck then filter this data during the analysis phase. With Joe concentrating on defence and Franck on attack, they prepare various video playlists to be shared with players.


From here, coaches and players can review the clips that are relevant to them. This is done either through their own Nacsport Elite licenses (all the coaching staff) or by using Nacsport Viewer (players).


Opposition Analysis


Joe and Franck analyse the opposition using a combination of data that they collect on their own and XML data downloaded from OPTA and fed into Nacsport.


From here, they create lists of video clips which are relevant to each position on the team. The corresponding players can then review the footage using Nacsport Viewer.

ASM Clermont players building Nacsport presentation windows


Ok, that’s the second time we’ve mentioned Nacsport Viewer in this article, so you’d be forgiven for asking what exactly it is. Basically, it’s a read-only version of Nacsport. Players don’t have access to the tagging functions of Nacsport such as button templates. But they do have access to the timeline, dashboards, and video lists created by the analyst. From here, they can review videos, create their own lists of video clips, and even add drawings to the videos using KlipDraw.


Check out this video for more information:



As well as being able to review videos on their own, there are also rooms at Clermont which are equipped with touchscreen TVs where team meetings are held. These meetings are usually separated by position. The backs and forwards meet together simultaneously but separately. Again, players can take ownership of these meetings by creating their own playlists and adding their own illustrations.

ASM Clermont forwards reviewing performance


Match Analysis


And so we come to, arguably, the most important day of the week...matchday. So, what are Joe and Franck up to during a match?


Well, first of all, they get set up to gather as much footage as possible. The principal source of this comes from TV feeds. This provides them with up to four different camera angles which they save to SD cards using video capture cards. This footage can be pored over and dissected after the match, but during the match, they also need some live capture.


Joe feeds live footage directly into Nacsport Elite where advanced data collection tools such as Panel Flows, Clustered Buttons and Activation and Deactivation Links help him gather as much data as possible. This data can then be fed into a live Dashboard which is set up to display Clermont’s key performance indicators.

Nacsport Elite in use at ASM Clermont


Real Time Analysis


Joe can transmit the live dashboard, as well as any tags and video clips he has made, to the coaches on the bench. This is done through Nacsport Coach Station, our data receiving app. This is similar to the Viewer app we mentioned above, except everything is transmitted in real time.


Coaches can swipe through any of the video clips that Joe or Franck have tagged, check the KPIs through the dashboard and, generally, get a better idea of how the team and players are performing. This means that they can make informed tactical decisions during the game


Coach Station also comes into play at half-time and is used to review various actions with coaches and players, either individually or as a whole team.



After a game, Joe and Franck follow a similar process to that of training analysis. They create lists of actions that the coaches and players can review on their own or in team meetings and then the whole cycle starts over again.


To Sum Up

ASM Clermont team meeting


Listen, we realise that we’ve only scratched the surface of the work done by Joe and Franck at Clermont. We haven’t even touched on how they collect their own data, work with OPTA data, nor how they use things like Power BI for visualisation and prediction.


So, for the sake of brevity. We suggest that you check out the two articles that our friends at AnalysisPro have already written on this subject, the first of which forms the basis for this post. You can read them here and here.


In the second of these articles, you can also watch a fascinating webinar that AnalysisPro conducted with Joe Larkin himself. This is an amazing resource for anyone interested in professional video analysis workflows with a lot of technical information included. Get it straight from the horse’s mouth!


Anyway, it’s time for us to call it a day. If you’re in the UK, Ireland or France and interested in learning more about video analysis solutions for rugby, get in touch with AnalysisPro today. 


Somewhere else in the world? Contact us directly here at Nacsport and we’ll be happy to talk through your needs.


To end this article, we’d like to say a big thank you to Joe, Franck and everyone at Clermont for continuing to put their trust in Nacsport and, most importantly, wish them well in the Top 14 league this season.


Thanks for reading!

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