Can you #BeatTheMachine?

We are always thinking of ways in which we can use data analysis to solve sporting challenges for governing bodies, leagues, clubs and organisations.

Currently the Gallagher Premiership awards a set number of points for a Covid-cancelled game. That is 4 points to the team that received the cancellation, and 2 points to the team which forced it by having Covid cases.

But what if we don’t assume there’s blame associated with the club that contracted Covid? After all, there’s no suggestion that they have not followed all of the given protocols. So we pose the question: Is there a fairer way of allocating points for cancelled matches? Short answer, yes. Long answer, read on.

The Long Answer

The fairer way would be to make intelligent estimates for the missing score lines of cancelled matches using well understood mathematical modelling based on the form and games played so far in the season.

We believe the most accurate way to predict a match outcome is by using the form guide, factoring in home/away, and how one team’s attack would specifically stack up against another team’s defence, and vice versa. We’ve also worked out how likely a team is to score their points through kicks or tries, and thus how many bonus points they would receive.

In pursuit of this understanding of how to more fairly allocate points for cancelled matches, we have created a Rugby Outcome Score System (ROSS), to indicate what each scoreline should be if it were to be decided purely by form going into a match.

ROSS' prediction for this weekend's matches (Home v Away):

  • Sale Sharks 14 - 13 Exeter Chiefs: Chiefs to lose 1 bonus point
  • Bristol Bears 30 - 18 Leicester Tigers: Neither team to win / lose bonus points
  • Newcastle Falcons 22 - 23 Harlequins: Falcons to win 1 bonus point
  • Wasps 26 - 26 London Irish: Neither team to win / lose bonus points
  • Gloucester 24 - 16 Worcester Warriors: Neither team to win / lose bonus points
  • Northampton Saints 36 - 21 Bath: Saints to win 1 bonus point

Other thoughts