1991 Rugby World Cup Final

Introduction

5272475352_e2d3b25562_bThis is a third in a series of posts that share and discuss some historical data from rugby union football.

This post looks at data collected in real-time from the 1991 Rugby World Cup final between Australia and England. Australia won the game 12-6. The game was played at Twickenham and was refereed by Derek Bevan of Wales.

A transcript of the hand notation is available for download here RWC1991. The methods used are described in this post.

Game Data

Data from the whole game:

 

Kicks

Passes

Lineouts

Scrums

Pens/Fks Conceded

Stoppages for Injury

Game

120

227

47

35

23

8

By team, by half of the game:

 

Kicks

Passes

Lineouts

Scrums

Pens/Fks Conceded

Stoppages for Injury

1H

2H

1H

2H

1H

2H

1H

2H

1H

2H

1H

2H

England

28

28

66

106

14

11

7

9

4

3

3

1

Australia

35

29

20

35

10

12

9

10

6

10

3

1

Ball in Play time and Elapsed Time

 

Ball in Play

(BiP)

Elapsed Time

(ET)

Percentage of Game BiP

Game Total

28m 06s

83m 45s

33.55

First Half

12m 33s

41m 51s

29.99

Second Half

15m 33s

41m 54s

37.11

Performance Ratios

In previous posts I have looked at two ratios:

  • Kicks: Passes
  • Lineouts: Scrums

In the 1991 Final these ratios for England were:

England

Kicks: Passes

Lineouts: Scrums

Game Total

0.33

1.56

First Half

0.42

2.00

Second Half

0.26

1.22

and for Australia:

Australia

Kicks: Passes

Lineouts: Scrums

Game Total

1.16

1.16

First Half

1.75

1.11

Second Half

0.83

1.20

A Phenomenology of Moments

The transcribed record of the game (RWC1991) offers an opportunity to undertake the discussion of tactics some years after the event. In doing so I am keen to explore how performance analysts might use insights from descriptive analysis, Mongin’s (2009) game-theoretic analysis, the work of  Kiser and Welser (2007) on analytic narratives and game theory and from exciting developments in presentation in the Snow Fall Project (2012).

The 1991 Final is an aggregation of events that has a rich time series of data to explore. I thought I would use this post as an opportunity to account for how I compiled these moments.

There were 121 activity cycles in the game (60 first half, 61 second half). (An activity cycle is defined as play between the referee’s whistles or the start of action without a whistle when the ball was introduced into play, for example, a scrum.)

I noted game actions in the following ways:

Time, Activity Cycles and Other Information

Time

Scoring Sequence

By minute, by half. Home team first (England):

Score

Kicks

England’s kicks in the game:

EK

I tried to record accurately who (shirt number) kicked the ball, when, at what time in the game. I notated if a player kicked with his left foot. I recorded kick off and restart kicks too. In the final, I noted one kick by a forward Wade Dooley in 27th minute in the first half.  From these notations, my record of Jonathan Webb (shirt number 15) is:

kicked the ball 16 times in the game (9 first half, 7 second half). 2 of his sixteen kicks were left footed. He was successful with two kicks at goal (22nd and 31st minutes of the second half) and missed two kicks at goal in the first half (36th and 41st minutes).

Rob Andrew (shirt number 10) kicked 31 times in the game (13 first half, 18 second half).

No England player kicked the ball in the last seven minutes of the game.

Passes

In all my hand notation activities I was keen to record the number of passes and phases of play in a game. My coaching interest was in continuity of play and so this was a very important measure and one to which I paid very close attention as I was recording events in real-time.

My record of the final for England is:

EP

I notated 172 passes for England (66 first half, 106 second half) in the game. The first phase play England had was in the 6th minute of the first half. This was a three phase play notated 4/4/0. There was a four phase play in the 13th minute 2/D/1/5 in which the second phase involved a drive by a player but no pass. Towards the end of the half (37th minute) England had a five phase play but conceded a penalty on the fifth phase.

England’s kick to pass ratio in the second half was 0.26 which is a fascinating ratio given England’s pattern of play in games leading up to the Final. The Wikipedia record notes:

England had reached the final by playing an attritional, forward dominated game, but appeared to respond to heavy public criticism from David Campese and rejected this style of play in the final. They chose to play a more expansive and open game, but failed to master it in the short time they had to practice it. The change in approach and the hope that this might unsettle the Australians proved flawed.

The site for the 2015 RWC has this retrospective too.

In the second half England built a six phase play in the 30th minute that became more dynamic in the fourth and fifth phases (two sets of four passes). Australia conceded a penalty in the sixth phase and Jonathan Webb kicked a goal from it to make the game 6-12.

This phase was notated as 1/D/1/4/4/P. In the Pens/Fks conceded notation Australia is recorded as conceding the eighth penalty/free kick of the second half and there is a note (a tick) to confirm that a goal resulted and there is confirmation in the kicks record for Jonathan Webb. There is a note too of Michael Lynagh (Australian shirt number 10) kicking the ball for the restart and it going long into the England 22.

Lineouts

For England, my record for the lineouts was:

LO 2

This record notes 14 first half lineouts and 11 second half lineouts. My aim was to record the sequence of lineout throws, where the ball ended up after the throw, the type of lineout (variation) and the time in the game.  From this record England threw the ball into the first three lineouts of the game. The ball went to the back twice and to the middle once. Note that here the number in the brackets relates to lineout position not shirt number. In the final quarter of the game, England only used two man lineouts. The ball went to the front jumper on three of the four occasions. England did not have a lineout put in from the 9th minute in the second half until the 29th minute.

England had an overall Lineouts:Scrums ratio of 1.56.

Scrums

In the Final, England had the following scrum record:

ES

Englad put the ball into four of the first five scrums. In this record the link between scrum 4 and 5 in the first half indicates that the scrum was reset. In my record I wanted to keep a record of discrete scrums as each attempt to feed the scrum was potentially and activity cycle when using real-time hand notation. In the second half England put the ball into 7 of the first 10 scrums in the half.

Penalties/ Free Kicks Conceded

I have been interested in the discipline each team shows in regards to the laws of the game. In the Final, England’s record was:

PFks

This game was refereed by Derek Bevan (Wales). It is interesting that the first two penalties were awarded against England. After conceding their fourth penalty in the 26th minute (from which Australia scored) of the first half, England went 29 minutes without conceding another penalty. Australia scored from the second penalty in the second half (27 minutes) and this took the game score to 3-12.

Stoppages for Injury

I was interested in the affect stoppages for injury had on a game and so kept a record of these incidents at a time when replacements were only allowed for injury. (The Replacement of injured players was added to the 1968-69 Laws. Tactical substitutions were introduced in 1996 (three replacements).) In the Final, England had four stoppages for injury:

EI

This record uses the player’s shirt number and the time in the game of the stoppage. There were stoppages for injuries to three backline players in the first half (Simon Halliday (14), Rob Andrew (10) and Jeremy Guscott (12)) and a forward in the second half (Jeff Probyn (3)).

Moving to a Phenomenography of Moments

Philippe Mignon has a fascinating way of looking at historical data ( A Game-Theoretic Analysis of the Waterloo Campaign and Some Comments on the Analytic Narrative Project). He uses military data to investigate whether outcomes might have been different. I think his insights and the availability of phenomenographic enquiry (Marston, 1981)  to research living memory can add a new dimension to the analysis of performance.

My aim in sharing these data is to provide a resource to investigate the possibility of accounting for performance and establishing ideal types of performance … and hopefully stimulating the development of analytic narratives.

I am imagining an outcome that looks like the remarkable New York Times Snow Fall Project (2012).

I wonder whether any of this resonates with you too.

Photo Credit

Varsity Match 2010 (cormac70, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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