New job gives Chapman enviable view of test

Hayden Chapman at Forsyth Barr Stadium with some of the gear he uses in his job with the All...
Hayden Chapman at Forsyth Barr Stadium with some of the gear he uses in his job with the All Blacks. Photo: supplied
It has been a swift rise up the ranks for Otago Polytechnic graduate Hayden Chapman.

Chapman started his new job as assistant performance analyst with the All Blacks at the start of June and will be in action tonight at Forsyth Barr Stadium as the men in black hunt for a clean sweep.

As the third test at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium looms, Chapman is all too aware that success in elite-level sport is often the result of many small things done well.

Chapman specialised in performance analysis at Otago Polytechnic, gaining a graduate diploma in applied science in 2015, a qualification that led directly  to him being employed by the Highlanders Super Rugby franchise, which won the competition that year.

He has remained with the Highlanders since. In fact, his contract with  New Zealand Rugby covers both the All Blacks and the Super franchise, so he can bounce between the roles, depending on requirements.

"It’s pretty exciting," he said.

"I’d say most people in this field would strive to work with the top team in its code —  and the All Blacks are.

"Growing up, I always wanted to be an All Black, but I wasn’t quite talented enough, so this is the next best thing."

He will be involved in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship campaign against Australia, South Africa and Argentina starting in August as well as their traditional northern hemisphere tour in November.

The field of performance analysis is focused primarily on the game’s technical and tactical elements.

This means Chapman is often granted a front-row view of some of the best athletes in the world.

He films training sessions and collates footage from matches, then sorts or "codes" it, depending on what his coaching team wants.

Sometimes he may focus on a specific player’s technique, or zoom in on set pieces to see what can be improved.

"I attend coaches’ meetings to help them prepare the team as best they can. Everyone is working towards getting the players to perform at their best.

"You have to communicate with the coaches and find out what information they need regarding players and sessions. You also analyse your own performances, to see how you could do better next time."

This notion could be applied to Chapman’s time at Otago Polytechnic.

As he advanced through his bachelor of applied science degree, he saw a career path open before him, aided by a range of opportunities facilitated by his tutors, who have strong relationships with a range of sporting groups, including the Otago Rugby Football Union and the Southern Steel netball franchise.

"I did some internships, including with the Otago rugby team, then the Highlanders in 2015, which turned into a paid role. Otago Polytechnic gave me the opportunity to get to where I am now."

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