True Colours? Winning Football Games

Each football season in Australia, I think about teams’ performances against their previous season’s rankings.

For Australian Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and the W League, I maintain a simple colour coding system which I think of as a team’s and a season’s DNA.

The colours I code to each performance are:

Legend

I extend this legend if there is a draw and define these draws as winning or losing draws (a higher ranked team drawing is a losing draw).

If rankings from 2012 are holding in 2013, I would expect to see a green top half of a table and a blue bottom half. Only the top team from 2012 will not have a gold square in its performance line … it has to beat every other team! Once a team has a red box I see this as an alert to ‘at risk’ performance.

We have had four weeks of the Super 15 Rugby Union competition:

S15

It is interesting to note how near to 2012 rankings, Round 4 was. The clear winners in this Round were the Hurricanes and the Cheetahs. Both beat higher ranked opponents and were the only teams to do so in the Round.

The NRL Competition started last week:

NRL1

The Eels, Panthers, and Knights made it a volatile start to the season. All three were able to win at home against higher ranked (2012) teams. The Cowboys defeated last season’s minor premiers away from home. Their performance is an interesting beacon for the season.

This simple approach has some fascinating implications: it identifies trends early and can lead to probabilistic models of performance.

This is the W League regular season record:

W League

It was interesting to note Melbourne’s run of form from Round 3 and Brisbane from Week 6. In this record, Perth was the most improved team.

From these football codes I am keen to ask two questions:

1. Is a team able to win consistently at home ?

2. Can the team play consistently above its ranking? (Or to its ranking as minor premiers from the previous season).

Consistency is the key to sustainable success, I believe. The coloured code for this is predominantly green for highly ranked teams and gold for aspiring teams. Teams who have a preponderance of blue are playing at their own level and should avoid red defeats at home.

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