Chez Nous: Top 14 Orange 2013-2014

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Introduction

Earlier this week, a friend shared a link to François Valentin’s Planet Rugby post, French rugby, where the locals rule.

François observes:

The Top 14 is a championship in which the locals rarely lose. So far this season, visiting sides have won only 12 percent of the games

I thought I would follow up on this assertion given my interests in home advantage and probabilistic approaches to winning.

Top14 Orange 2013-214

One hundred and forty-five games games have been played in the 2013-2014 Top 14 season. There have been 121 home wins, 19 away wins and 5 draws. This gives approximately 13% (13.10%) of away wins in this season’s competition.

At the end of Round 21, the Top 14 Orange points table is:

Source: http://www.espnscrum.com/france-top-14-2013-14/rugby/series/190149.html?template=pointstable
Source: http://www.espnscrum.com/france-top-14-2013-14/rugby/series/190149.html?template=pointstable

My record of these games is:

T14 HA

The legend for this table is:

Legend

The results have surprised me.

  • 77 of the 145 games played this season have followed my ranking model.
  • 12 of these 77 wins have followed my expectation of a ‘routine’ away win by a higher ranked team.
  • There have been 68 counter intuitive results (56 home wins and 7 away wins by lower ranked teams, 4 home draws and 1 away draw by lower ranked teams)

The Tournament leaders, Toulon, have: lost away games seven times to lower ranked opponents, drawn away against a lower ranked opponent once; and have won 10 of 11 games at home including a defeat of Clermont (a higher ranked team from the previous season). Toulon has lost one game at home to a lower ranked team (Grenoble) in Round 16 by one point.

This is Toulon’s profile for the season to date:

Toulon

After 21 rounds of the 2013-2014 Tournament, the home and away winning profiles of the teams are:

HA

The two teams that joined the competition for the 2013-2014 season, Brive and Oyonnax, have not won away from home but have won 9 games and 8 games at home respectively.

François notes in his Planet Rugby post:

Clermont haven’t lost since November 2009 at Marcel-Michelin and every extra match they win becomes an additional source of motivation. Losing a home game would by a massive blow to the morale of the team and the entire town.

The next section presents some comparative data from across the English Channel in the Aviva Premiership.

Aviva Premiership 2013-2014

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Ninety-six games have been played in the 2013-2014 Aviva Premiership season. There have been 51 home wins, 43 away wins and two draws. This gives approximately 45% (44.79%) of away wins in this season’s competition.

At the end of Round 16 of the Aviva Premiership, the Table is:

Aviva
http://www.espnscrum.com/premiership-2013-14/rugby/series/188579.html?template=pointstable

My record of these games is:

Aviva games

  • 67 of the 96 games played this season have followed my ranking model.
  • 32 of these 67 wins have followed my expectation of a ‘routine’ away win by a higher ranked team.
  • There have been 27 counter intuitive results (15 home wins, 11 away wins by lower ranked teams, 1 away draw by lower ranked teams)

The Premiership leaders, Northampton, have: lost one away game to a lower ranked opponent, drawn away against a higher ranked opponent; and have won all 8 games at home including defeats of two higher ranked teams (from the previous season).

This is Northampton’s profile for the season to date:

N

After 16 rounds of the 2013-2014 Tournament, the home and away winning profiles of the teams are:

Aviva HA

Discussion

I enjoyed François Valentin’s Planet Rugby post. It set me off on a research journey that has been really helpful in considering probabilistic models of success.

Many teams aspire to a home fortress in sport. Top 14 Orange illustrates how this occurs in a particular cultural context. The pattern of games in this competition raises some important questions about tacit knowledge and how seasons are constructed.

I am a very strong advocate for all teams being able to win at home in front of their own supporters. The Aviva Premiership appears to achieve this whilst still valuing away game success. The Top 14 experience appears quite different.

I think there are some fascinating research opportunities here in pursuit of a taxonomy of winning performance.

Photo Credits

Match Rugby Top 14: Racing Metro 92(RM92) vs. Perpignan (USAP) (Christophe Cussat-Blanc, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Try Saving Tackle (Peter Dean, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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