The an­a­lyst

Pres­sure, play­ing with Johnny Sexton and speak­ing ‘ Wi­ganese’ all come up in conversation with Lions an­a­lyst Vinny Ham­mond


VINNY HAM­MOND hands over his phone to show how much sleep he reg­is­tered dur­ing the first week of the Lions tour. There’s one en­try of more than seven hours but the rest are in the twos and threes. The fig­ures il­lus­trate just how hec­tic it is to be part of the anal­y­sis team on a tour such as this. Not only do they have two games a week to pre­pare for and re­view, col­lat­ing clips and in­for­ma­tion for coaches and play­ers, but there is also a larger squad in­volved than if you were work­ing with a na­tional side and they have to travel af­ter nearly ev­ery match.

The fig­ures in Ham­mond’s sleep di­ary have im­proved as the tour has gone on and de­spite its fre­netic na­ture, he is lov­ing it. “You don’t feel tired,” says the first-time Lions tourist. “You get re­ally en­er­gised by the play­ers and the new ex­pe­ri­ences.”

The Ir­ish­man is part of a three-strong anal­y­sis team headed up by Rho­dri Bown of the WRU and also in­clud­ing Eng­land’s Michael Hughes, both of whom have been in­volved in pre­vi­ous tours. The trio have bonded well and have their own “an­a­lysts’ wagon”, with Ham­mond be­hind the wheel, Hughes in charge of the music and Bown set­ting up his “of­fice” in the back seat. No one else is al­lowed in the car, which has blacked-out win­dows and is fit­ted out with mon­i­tors and USB ports in the back so that they can work while on the move. Un­for­tu­nately for Ham­mond, he has gen­er­ally been the des­ig­nated driver so still has to do his anal­y­sis when they reach what­ever des­ti­na­tion they are head­ing to, but for the oth­ers it is time-sav­ing to have the fa­cil­i­ties in the car to pull to­gether in­for­ma­tion for the coaches.

“I deal pre­dom­i­nantly with Andy Far­rell on defence, Mike works on the for­wards and Rho­dri works on the at­tack,” Ham­mond ex­plains of their roles. “The coaches are quite good – they don’t put too much em­pha­sis on any­thing that’s not needed, so there’s lit­tle fluff – but they all want some­thing dif­fer­ent! We pick out the bits they want from us and give them every­thing they need, a full plat­ter, but with­out wast­ing time. You have to work smart.

Pulling to­gether AU­GUST 2017 Na­tional ri­vals Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje graft to per­fect the Lions’ maul

In­stant re­play Ham­mond with Steve Borth­wick and (right) a Tommy Sey­mour steal v High­landers

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