Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) partner and sponsor of Wales Women’s rugby union team, Vodafone, has created a performance-tracking platform for the women’s team called PLAYER.Connect. Crucially, not only does the platform track the health and fitness of the athletes who use it, it also tracks their menstrual cycle and the impact this has on their performance, wellbeing and recovery.
A recent study conducted in this area show that 93% of female rugby players have experienced menstrual cycle-related symptoms such as cramps or headaches while playing; and 67% of female rugby players believe that menstrual cycle-related symptoms severely impact their performance on the field. But despite these studies, there is a lack of guidance available to players on how to manage those symptoms as professional athletes.
The PLAYER.CONNECT platform gathers data on a player's performance, menstrual cycle phases and mental and physical wellbeing by combining data from wearable devices such as GPS trackers with responses provided by the players during their 'morning monitoring' sessions before training.
Wales Women have been using the app throughout their 2023 Six Nations campaign and their captain, Hannah Jones, believes that the app has aided their success in the tournament so far: “Having this app helps us find that extra 1% that will help you beat the opposition,' Jones explained. 'It helps both the players and the coaches be aware of our bodies and that we’re not little men, we’re women, and that helps them know how to train us and get the best out of each phase.'
Vodafone has committed to working with the WRU to support the development of its elite female athletes and to continue to grow the women’s game at a grassroots level, with the aim of reaching 10,000 female players by 2026.