Munster have taken to the skies in a bid to get an edge over their rivals in the quest for Pro12 and European glory.
They are now using a drone to give them a bird’s eye view of what happens in training.
Munster brought the drone in on trial this week and the response from coaches so far has been very positive as they get a new angle on what they are doing on the training paddock.
Munster’s head performance analyst, George Murray, said that the drone can operate from heights up to 150 metres and gives coaches a different perspective on what’s occurring in training.
“We’re always looking for innovation really, anything that can find that marginal gain. Everybody talks about the 1%, what is the difference.
“You don’t want to overload, but at the same time you need to look at different things to see if it’s going to benefit. You weigh up the option on whether it is going to be a benefit or an interference,” he said.
Munster, like all other professional teams, video their training sessions from a number of angles and use this in analysis. The drone, with a high-powered inbuilt camera and using GPS, has a battery life of about 20 minutes and other recent innovations have made it usable for recording training sessions.
“You basically calibrate it into a position beside the pitch. And that becomes its automatic take-off and landing spot. So once it goes up there, there is very little flying. There is very little skill technique manoeuvring it.
“We had a 35mph gust of wind the other day. The drone fights hard against the wind but the camera stays still.” Drones vary in price from a few hundred euro to several thousand euro depending on the specifications. Murray said the initial response had been very good, especially with the quality of footage from such heights.
“It gives us pretty much the perfect view for tracking manoeuvres on the pitch. You get a good enough spec quality from the camera, the actual physical spec of the camera gives you enough clarity from a distance.
“You could see the numbers on the guys’ backs. Next week and beyond we are hoping to bring it in more permanently,” added Murray.
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