What if we allocated points by predicted performance? A closer look at Round 21’s cancelled Premiership Rugby fixture

Round 21 saw another COVID cancelled game in the Gallagher Premiership this season. Gloucester had to close their facilities late last week due to positive tests and thus their game with Bath was cancelled. Premiership Rugby then confirmed the awarding of 4 league points to Bath and 2 league points to Gloucester, with the score being recorded as 0-0. The subsequent awarding of league points has had ramifications for not only Gloucester and Bath, but the teams around them as they try to secure a top 8 position and Champions Cup rugby for next season. 

Earlier in the year when we introduced ROSS to the performance analysis landscape, we published a blog that included how it works and some recommendations on how Premiership Rugby could allocate points in scenarios such as this, read here. So, what did ROSS predict for the game had it taken place, and was there a fairer way to distribute the league points?

Get in touch to learn more about ROSS and our services at Insight-Analysis to deepen your understanding of your Sport, today. Email: [email protected]

ROSS predicted the home side would take the spoils with Gloucester scoring an expected 4.22 tries, 3 of which converted, and 1.55 penalties. Bath, however, was expected to score 3.11 tries, convert 2 of them, and then record 2.40 penalties. This gave us a predicted score of 32-27 and Gloucester winning the game by 5 points. This exact outcome would have meant Gloucester received 5 league points for winning the game with a try-scoring bonus point, with Bath getting a solitary losing bonus point. 

However, ROSS tells us that on average, Gloucester would expect to get 3 (3.1252) premiership points from the game and Bath 2 (2.1449). This is quite different from the points that were allocated to each team. As Gloucester was the team that was unable to fulfil the fixture, it wouldn’t be fair to give them more points than Bath and essentially give them a win, which they would have been desperate for due to their league position of 10th before round 21. Therefore, using ROSS and the prediction that Gloucester would narrowly win, we would suggest that the fairest points allocation would’ve been 3 to each team. 

Pos.TeamPtsPts diff
6Leicester Tigers49-21
9London Irish46-92
10Newcastle Falcons44-99
League Table after Round 21
Pos.TeamPtsPts diff
6Leicester Tigers49-21
8London Irish ↑ +147-92
9Bath ↓ -147-116
10Gloucester ↑ +144-68
11Newcastle Falcons ↓ -144-99
Resulting League Table after Round 21 using ROSS’ recommendation

With Leicester visiting Wasps this weekend, a win for either side would confirm their position in the Champions Cup next year, with a draw being enough for both sides. London Irish face a tough trip to Bristol Bears in round 22, although the Bears’ home semi-final for the league playoffs has been confirmed and they could rest several players. Using our recommendations, if London Irish matched Bath’s result against Northampton or bettered it (unless there was an unlikely 24-point swing to Bath), London Irish would take that 8th European spot. However in reality, if Bath were to win with a bonus point against Northampton, London Irish cannot overtake them to qualify for the Champion’s cup, regardless of their result against Bristol. 

With the news that Gloucester’s round 22 match up with Worcester has now also been cancelled, and assuming Premiership Rugby allocate points in the same way and award Gloucester only 2, they now cannot qualify for the Champion’s Cup. The most unlikely team to qualify, although still mathematically possible, is Newcastle Falcons. Among some very specific and unlikely scenarios, they need to win away at 4th placed Harlequins, and are also relying on two of Bath, London Irish, and Wasps to lose for them to climb to 8th.  Although the good news for them is if we were to use the table following ROSS’ recommendation, their chances would be even slimmer!  

ROSS’ predictions for what the final league table will look like will be out later this week!

To learn more about ROSS’ and how data science can enhance your performance operations, get in touch, today. Email: [email protected]