#RWC2019 after 44 games

The quarter finals stage of the Rugby World Cup was concluded with South Africa’s victory over Japan (link). Forty-four games have been played. The official website for the tournament provides a Stats page for each game (link).

Data are provided for:

  • Territory
  • Possession
  • Attack
  • Kicking
  • Set pieces
  • Discipline
  • Defence

Of these, I have chosen to look closely at discipline (referee, referee’s country of origin, penalties and free kicks conceded and cards), passes (attack), kicks, lineouts and scrums (set pieces). I am particularly interested in how mobile a game is so I have monitored two ratios (lineouts:scrums and passes:kicks). I have curated these data as a Google Sheet (link).

I have separate tabs within the Google Sheet to provide granular data including cards given by referees.

I have a particular interest in whether my two ratios can become a single figure to describe a game (link). The numbers I have calculated range from 0.52 (New Zealand v Namibia) to 6.31 (Wales v Uruguay). The median game ratio is 2.55. I have explored these data with R. My visualisations using size (with a geom_hline as a median), colour and annotate (for outliers) are:

After forty-four games, the median game content I have is:

  • 16 penalties and free kicks conceded
  • 58 kicks
  • 264 passes
  • 14 scrums
  • 25 lineouts

These medians become probability priors for subsequent games. It will be interesting to see what kind of games the semi-finals are.

Photo Credit

On attack (RWC2019)


Catherine Ordway graduated as a PhD scholar at the University of Canberra’s Graduation ceremony on Wednesday, 9 October. For her and her family it was one of those memorable days. I was delighted that she accompanied Finn, Paul and Robin in the procession (link).

I met Catherine sometime before the start of her thesis. She joined me on the Board of Australian Canoeing and provided invaluable independent advice to us. I was very impressed by her. I discovered she was from Canberra and by serendipity learned of her extensive work in equity and integrity in sport. At that time, I was keen for her to pursue a PhD if she could as I thought she had a very important voice to share.

Catherine did pursue a PhD by publication and is now on the staff at the University of Canberra where she is Course Convenor and Assistant Professor (Sports Management).  She lectures in Sports and the Law and Performance Integrity and Athlete Management (link). 

Her thesis title is Protecting Sports Integrity: Sport corruption strategies. Her abstract that summarises her papers is:

Doping, match-fixing and corruption are challenges to the integrity of sport.  Rather than imagining that there is a single “magic wand” solution, drawing on lessons from other industries and contexts, the culture of corruption rife in both Olympic and professional sports can instead be tackled through a range of tools.  Inspired by the idea of “moral repair”, and the Ethics of Care approach, a number of risk reduction strategies, including: engaging in collaborative partnerships with law enforcement, strengthening legislative and regulatory frameworks, prioritising athlete welfare and supporting good governance, including promoting gender equality and ethical leadership, have been outlined.

Catherine’s family joined her to celebrate the day. In doing so, it became one of those forever days.


The University of Canberra’s Uncover has published an article about Catherine to celebrate her doctorate (link).

#RWC2019: Group Games

The Group Games at the 2019 Rugby World Cup concluded with the Japan v Scotland fixture (link).

World Rugby provided data about each game. From these data, I recorded: penalties and free kicks conceded; kicks; passes; scrums: lineouts. My median profiles for the Group Games were:

  • Penalties and free kicks conceded: 16
  • Kicks: 58
  • Passes: 264
  • Scrums: 14
  • Lineouts: 25

I was also interested in ratio of passes to kicks and lineouts to scrums as a dynamic measure of each game (link). My median ratios for Group Games were: 4.55 passes to kicks and 1.79 lineouts to scrums. I used these ratios to derive a single number for each game to describe what kind of game it was. My median ratio for the Group Games was 2.55.

My ratios for the Group Games were:

Blue horizontal line is the median ratio of 2.55

Below the median:

Above the median:

Other data from the official website included officiating:

Passes and kicks in each of the Group Games:

Games with 300 or more passes:

Lineouts and scrums per Group Game:

Games with 30 or more lineouts:

Photo Credit

Japan v Scotland (World Rugby)