Serving the Oval ball & France

Julien Pis­cione, a UTC PhD grad­u­ate, has been head of the Per­for­mance Sup­port Depart­ment at the French Rug­by Federation’s sports depart­ment since 2016. His pas­sion for sport and keen inter­est in advanced stud­ies have made him an expert in per­for­mance analysis.

«Even though it was painful to lose out in the quar­ter-finals of the 2023 Rug­by World Cup, a lot of hard work was put in by our play­ers, like Antoine Dupont, whom I’ve known for a long time. This is a team that want­ed more than any­thing to win the title. But we’re going to bounce back. We have invest­ed heav­i­ly, par­tic­u­lar­ly in sci­en­tif­ic terms,» explains Julien Pis­cione, head of Per­for­mance Sup­port in the FFR’s Research and Devel­op­ment department.

Unlike his friends, who were going to engi­neer­ing school, he chose to study STAPS, the sci­ence and tech­niques of phys­i­cal and sport­ing activ­i­ties, once he had passed his bac­calau­réat S, with hon­ours. It has to be said that he already had a great deal of sport­ing expe­ri­ence by this time, in 2000. Julien Pis­cione had been prac­tis­ing Karate since he was five years old. He was a top-lev­el sports­man from 1997 to 2001, a mem­ber of the Le Mans Karate Pole Espoir in 1997/1998, a mem­ber of the INSEP Karate Pole France from 1998 to 2001, then a club train­er and hold­er of the Fed­er­al Instruc­tor Diploma.

Developing avenues for progress in the quest for performance

«Study­ing sports sci­ence very quick­ly became a goal for me and that’s where UTC Com­pieg­ne came into my life. After a DEA in Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, major­ing in Bio­med­ical Engi­neer­ing, I embarked on a PhD obtained in 2006, enti­tled “Elec­tromyo­graph­ic study of stri­at­ed skele­tal mus­cles sub­ject­ed to exter­nal mechan­i­cal com­pres­sion”. The rug­by scrum, which is heav­i­ly impli­cat­ed in the occur­rence of neck injuries, was an appro­pri­ate appli­ca­tion for the elec­tromyo­graph­ic (EMG) study of mus­cles sub­ject­ed to mechan­i­cal com­pres­sion,» he sums up.

At the UTC BMBI (bio­me­chan­ics and bio engi­neer­ing) lab­o­ra­to­ry, he met Chan­tal Pérot, now Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus at UTC. A rug­by research pro­gramme was then set up in con­junc­tion with the FFR, and Julien Pis­cione obtained a grant and worked assid­u­ous­ly for four years on his the­sis. «It was an incred­i­ble expe­ri­ence because I dis­cov­ered many dif­fer­ent fields: engi­neer­ing, com­put­er sci­ence, biol­o­gy and sig­nal pro­cess­ing. My time at UTC opened my eyes to a glob­al vision of research. Then I joined the FRR, where they were look­ing for the future head of the R&D unit. Today, I man­age the Sport and Per­for­mance Sci­ences department.

Base camp for France’s teams

Julien Pis­cione takes a sci­en­tif­ic look at many aspects of the lives of these top ath­letes, includ­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal prepa­ra­tion, nutri­tion, sleep, data and stress. The aim: to always have a com­pet­i­tive edge over oth­er nations. «For exam­ple, we know that rug­by is a con­tact sport that caus­es injuries such as con­cus­sions. Using sen­sors in the mouth­guards, we can assess head accel­er­a­tion and iden­ti­fy sit­u­a­tions that could lead to concussion.

For Julien Pis­cione, sport and inno­va­tion are close­ly linked. At the next Olympics, he will have a front-row seat in the sta­di­um, not far from the play­ers, like a rear base that will have done its utmost to help improve per­for­mance. «With an oval ball bounc­ing all over the place, it’s not always easy to play 15-a-side with some­what com­plex rules. For me, that’s also the beau­ty of sport: you have to remain hum­ble and admire the show!”


  • Since 2016: Head of the Sport and Per­for­mance Sci­ences Depart­ment, Sports Depart­ment, French Rug­by Fed­er­a­tion (FFR)
  • 2006/2002: Doc­tor­ate in Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, spe­cial­is­ing in Bio­med­ical Engi­neer­ing, UTC 
  • 2002/2001: DEA in Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, ≪Bio­med­ical Engi­neer­ing≫ major, UTC

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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