Can You #BeatTheMachine?

At Insight Analysis, we’re always thinking of different ways of using data analysis to solve sporting challenges for governing bodies, leagues, clubs and organisations.

In one of our regular discussions amongst our talented analysts, scientists, and administrators, we were investigating the fairness of the current method of deciding a Covid-cancelled match in the Gallagher Premiership in Rugby Union, inspired by the discussion in Episode 13 of this season’s Eggchasers Podcast.

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? Well, we think there is. 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.

For those interested in the method behind the mathematical model created by the team here at Insight Analysis, click here for a full explanation, and please feel free to respond with any suggestions, contentions, or improvements.

For those uninterested in the detailed methodology, we can break this down a little bit. We’re essentially saying that the most accurate way to predict a match outcome is by using the form guide and factoring in home/away, and how one team’s attack would specifically stack up against a certain other 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.

So, we want to introduce our Rugby Outcome Score System (ROSS) to you and pitch him against the strong community of rugby analysts and fans.

Each week, ROSS will tell you what each scoreline should be if it were purely decided by form going into the match. Can you use all your human knowledge and intuition to beat the machine?

Here are ROSS’s predictions for this weekend’s matches:

Home TeamAway Team
Sale Sharks14 – 13Exeter Chiefs
0 bonus point win1 bonus point loss
Bristol Bears30 – 18Leicester Tigers
0 bonus point win0 bonus point loss
Newcastle Falcons22 – 23Harlequins
1 bonus point loss0 bonus point win
Wasps26 – 26London Irish
0 bonus point draw0 bonus point draw
Gloucester24 – 16Worcester Warriors
0 bonus point win0 bonus point loss
Northampton Saints36 – 21Bath
1 bonus point win0 bonus point loss

Do you agree with them? Head over to our Twitter now to share your thoughts and join the discussion!