Victoria University partners with AFL Western Bulldogs to present VU Data Lab



As a leader in sports data analytics, University of Victoria joined industry partners Western Bulldogs in the AFL 2021 Finals Series to present the VU Data Lab which provided game summaries of the Bulldogs and revealed stats info that may suggest upcoming challenges and player recovery.

Thanks to Finals Countdown, a video series hosted by Sam Hargreaves, Bob Murphy and Ellie Blackburn, experts discussed player ratings to analyze and improve performance, using research statistics from the University of Victoria (VU).

Western Bulldogs roster and scouting analyst Sam McIntosh runs the VU Data Lab, investigating player performance using the famous AFL Player Ranks.

McIntosh refers to the player rating system as “the best objective indicator of a player’s overall performance available to the AFL.”

The number of evaluation points is relative to the extent to which it improves their team’s chances of scoring next.

Each share belongs to one of the five main categories:

  • winning ball (saves, mid-chain and interceptions)
  • use of the ball (kicks, handballs and shots on goal)
  • defensive (pressure and booty)
  • hits
  • negative (deductibles against, debits and penalties of 50m).

McIntosh says the VU-Bulldogs partnership provides access that benefits players and researchers, noting that “the partnership is quite unique in that it allows researchers like me to be integrated into the club. We also have other researchers and students in the areas of strength and conditioning, training design and load management.

Fans attended a pre-match special on the day of the Grand Final featuring current and past players and legendary club members. They appeared with hosts to investigate the results of the VU Data Lab and analyze previous matches in which the Bulldogs and Demons have faced each other.

Bulldogs midfielder and VU Business student Jackson Macrae discussed the value of the research partnership for the team leading up to the Grand Final.

“It’s a great resource that both parties benefit from and work really well together. And I know we’ve had quite a few people at the club to help us out … and open our eyes to some of the technology, science, and statistics that have probably helped measure weightlifting, recovery, and different aspects of our performance.

While the end result was not in the Bulldogs’ favor this year, VU is proud to have played a part in their journey to the Grand Final and look forward to a successful 2022 AFLW and AFL seasons.

Read detailed reports from the VU Data Lab.

For more information on this in-demand industry and the VU Graduate Certificate in Data Analysis for Sports Performance, visit for-sport-performance-stsp

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