Science Scrum in Athlone

Buccaneers Rugby Club had a large crowd in attendance last Tuesday night for a special science week event exploring the science of rugby with Jack Carty and Rosie Foley. They were in conversation with leading science communicator Dr Craig Slattery of UCD and the conversation explored how much technology has evolved in the past number of years, allowing more and more monitoring of performance and training plans. The event was part of the Midlands Science Festival and showed how science relating to rugby involves everything from fitness to physics.

For instance, the use of GPS technology on the pitch provides players with invaluable performance analysis which previous generations could only have dreamed of. Data generated by companies such as Statsports offers a comprehensive understanding of each player’s strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. By harnessing the power of science, players can reach unprecedented levels of performance. Consider for a moment that the roll of an F16 fighter jet is equivalent to 9gs of force. Some players on the Irish team will give or take tackles registering between 10 and 20gs in any given match.

The science behind rugby extends far beyond performance analysis. On the rugby pitch, mathematics, physics, and fitness interplay to create a dynamic game and there were lots of good stories on the night from Connaught Captain Jack Carty and former Irish International Rosie Foley. Rosie also shared some great examples of her own playing career and that of her father Anthony and her late brother Axel Foley. Questions from the audience included everything from what’s the best foods to eat when training and advice for those considering a career in rugby. A large crowd of almost 100 ranged in age from 10 to 80, demonstrating the universal appeal of the game.

This event is part of the Midlands Science Festival and is supported by Science Foundation Ireland as part of national Science Week. Taking place from 12th-19th November, the theme for Science Week 2023 is ‘Human?’, which asks people to consider what it means to be human in today’s world, and how the decisions we make today will impact the people and world of the future.

According to Pauline Nally of Midlands Science, “Learning more about the science of rugby from two amazing players, Jack Carty and Rosie Foley was an eye-opening experience to their own dedication to excellence and also the increasingly important role that science is playing in the game and in the lives of its players.”