Robin Poke’s Thesis on Australian Rowing

Robin Poke’s thesis is with the binders. This marks a remarkable step in Robin’s journey to a doctorate at the University of Canberra. He has responded to the detailed comments of his examiners and all his changes are now incorporated into the thesis thanks to the wonderful editorial assistance provided by Bruce Coe.

His abstract is:

This thesis describes in detail the beginnings, development and progress of rowing in Australia through fifteen chapters that set out chronologically how the sport transitioned from the days of settlement, the early watermen, and to the 19th century and the onset of professional sculling. Then came, in the 20th century, the era of pure amateurism before, given the massive funding in contemporary sport, it reverted at the very least to the semi- professional level.

The initial chapters describe the early use of boats by settlers and the exploits of the earliest professional scullers, who captured the imagination not just of the citizens of New South Wales but of all the colonies. Then comes the rapid expansion of rowing and sculling at all levels: club, colonial and national, and the onset of the amateur ideology. The transition from inter-colonial to inter-state competition is described, as is the emergence of women’s rowing. Then comes Australia’s growing involvement at the international level between the two world wars. The retirement of professional sculler Bobby Pearce and the eventual decline of professional sculling are discussed.

A continuing swing away from amateurism towards at least semi-professionalism is seen. Also described is the improvement in the administration of national rowing, at the hands, initially, of John Coates, assisted by John Boultbee. Australia’s first professional Director of Coaching, Reinhold Batschi is introduced.

An extraordinary decade in the history of Australian rowing arrives, during which the sport experiences hitherto unforeseen success and at the end of which hosts an Olympic Regatta. At the heart of this success are the stunning results obtained by a crew that had become known as the Oarsome Foursome.

The period between the celebrating of a successful ‘home’ Olympic Games in 2000 and the London Olympic Games in 2012 is described. In the interim were the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games. The thesis ends with a discussion about Rowing Australia’s high performance plans for the future of rowing and contemplation about the process of writing a narrative history of rowing.

Photo Credits

Ned Trickett’s Race (Ruth’s Reminiscences, Grand Pacific Tours)

Ross crowned world champion (Paralympics Australia)

Fourth Ashes Test: England First Innings

Day 3 of the Fourth Ashes Test ended with England at 200 for 5 wickets (link). The task facing England is to have partnerships exceeding 50 runs per wicket and the challenge facing Australia is to keep partnerships below 50.

So far, the partnerships have been: 10, 15, 141, 9, 21. The partnership between Rory Burns and Joe Root (141) lifted England above the rate required. At that stage, England were 16 runs ahead of the required rate.

These data encourage me to think about how teams prepare for games and the scenarios they use to deal with the must (link) part of their roles.

Photo Credit

End of the Day (Coral, Twitter)


England scored 301 in their first innings (link).

Women’s FIFA World Cup 2019: Goal Scoring Contexts

Ron Smith is coming to Canberra to give a talk about goal scoring. I am delighted he is sharing his findings based on meticulous research.

I looked carefully at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France (link) and have a Google Sheet to share my data (link). The data I have curated are the official FIFA data recorded at each game as Match Facts (link). Referee information and weather were on the same page too:

I have been using R and ggplot2 to look at some contextual data for Ron’s goal scoring discussions.

I use median measures to monitor performance. At this World Cup some of my median data were:

  • Ball in Play = 55 Minutes
  • Total Game Time = 97 Minutes
  • Ball Not In Play = 43 Minutes
  • Temperature = 22C
  • Humidity = 60%
  • Wind = 12kph
  • Fouls = 20
  • Goals = 3

Goals Scored

Ball in Play Time

Total Game Time

Ball Not In Play

Time Measures

Temperature and Humidity

Referees: Ball in Play

Referees: Game Time

Referees: 3 Games > 130 Minutes Game Time

Referees: Ball Not In Play

Referees: Fouls Penalised

I am hopeful these data are of some use. I have all the jpgs and pdfs to share with Ron if needed. What interests me in Ron’s talk is how teams score goals in these contexts.