RSS West Midlands: Rugby vs Statistics

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Wednesday 16 October 2019, 05:00pm - 06:30pm

Location MS.01, Mathematics and Statistics (Zeeman) Building, University of Warwick

About the event:

The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be the most data-driven in history, from influencing team strategy via performance analysis, to enriching global media coverage, to informing the millions of pounds that will be wagered on the tournament. By bringing together a panel of speakers from the media industry, professional rugby, and academia, this event will give an opportunity to hear how data and statistics can be used to interpret and influence the game.

Stuart Farmer - Rugby statistician, SFMS Ltd

Rugby data - who wants it and why

The demand for data has seen rapid growth in rugby union over the last couple of decades. This talk will set the scene for that use. It discusses the diverse areas where the data is consumed, covering media, performance analysis, gambling and commercial uses, and how that landscape has developed. From his position as provider of rugby union data to the media, finance industry and clubs, Stuart Farmer is able to talk first hand to this development, and discuss some of the practical difficulties in curating the data. He finishes with some key stats from the current World Cup.

Marc Turner - Senior Performance Analyst, Harlequins RFC

Rugby performance analysis: from data to strategy, game plan and execution

Performance analysis in Rugby enables coaches and players to make informed decisions based on objective and subjective information. Rugby clubs of a professional standard in both the Championship and Premiership employ analysts to record, review and report back on all training and matches to enhance performance of their team and that of the opposition.
Statistical methods inform the work of the analyst by allowing exploration of data from different aspects of the game of rugby, to identify strengths, weaknesses and potential opportunities for both opposition and own performance.
This contribution to the evening will focus on how we as analysts go about exploring data using both visually and numeric statistical methods. The process of extracting and reviewing data as, well as how this is presented back to coaches and players, will be explained, in addition to how data are used to inform the game plan on a weekly basis.

Professor Phil Scarf - University of Salford

 A Point on Conversion

An argument is made for less scoring in rugby union. Radical rules changes are needed to increase outcome uncertainty and thereby increase suspense and surprises and reduce the barrier to entry. Many matches are at best predictable and at worst “one-sided hammerings”. This is not good for the development of the sport, particularly at international level. Thus, it is suggested to reward a try according to its name: nothing for the try but one goal for the conversion (c.f. 1875). Further, the penalty-goal should be abolished. A somewhat less radical idea is that increasing scoring rates (more penalty-goals, more tries) is not necessarily a good thing. Probabilistic and statistical arguments for these proposals are presented. Thus, the relationship between scoring-rate and outcome probabilities is studied in the context of a Poisson-match. Scoring rates in international matches from 1960 to date are analysed. A Rugby World Cup tournament is simulated under various scoring-rule variations. This work forms part of a wider study, across several ball-sports, of the relationship between outcome uncertainty and scoring-rate, strength-variation, and score-dependence, and the implications for rule-modifications and for the design of new formats. 

Getting there: 

Contact for the purposes of catering you are requested to register:

Organiser Name Ian Hamilton

Email Address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Organising Group(s) RSS West Midlands Local Group in conjunction with the RSS Statistics in Sport Section





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