by Rugby4Cast / 12th August 2019
Analysis World Cup 2019


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The Algorithm’s Predictions

Well, there you have it. Simple, isn’t it?

Just what the hell is that then?

That, my good friend, is the result of 5,000 simulations of the Rugby World Cup using our machine learning Rugby Algorithm. We use various factors to determine team strength, team form, head to head records and a few other bits and bobs and cram them all together into a veritable soup of rugby statistics. The Algorithm has a look at all this, decides what is important in determining the outcome of a rugby match based on previous matches, and the builds a prediction for future matches and the tournament as a whole. Lovely job.
[For individual predictions for the group stages see here.]

Why have you done this?

Mainly to annoy my wife. She hates rugby.

I can relate to that. So what does it mean?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Zealand come out on top (despite their recent woes). Their historical strength is too great, according to the Algorithm, to be ignored on the basis of a few recent matches. However, it may interest you to note that their chances have dropped sharply on the back of their Rugby Championship performances. We calculate the probability of them winning the title has reduced by 16% over the course of the Championship, from 71% then to 55% today. This will continue to be updated until the tournament begins, and throughout the World Cup – so stay tuned to see further updates.

Good stuff. Anything else?

Lots! Here’s a chart that shows the chances the Algorithm has calculated for each team getting to each stage.

One of the things that can be read from the above is that we have 6 very certain quarter finalists – in the shape of New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia, Ireland and Wales – and 4 battling it out for the final 2 spots.
Scotland, France, Argentina and Japan will have to fight it out to make the knockout stages. Seem reasonable?

I think so …

I’ll leave you to tease out any other nuances that you may see in the above then. Please let me know if you spot anything interesting and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or email me about anything else. I’m always happy to try and explain things that may not immediately make sense. A few things worth noting are:

  • Teams chances may look at bit suspect when you move through the rounds, but this often depends on who their likely opponents are in those rounds. For example, you can see above that Scotland are MORE likely to make the quarter finals than France, but LESS likely to make the semi finals. This is because Scotland are very likely to come up against New Zealand in the quarter finals, which will probably end their World Cup hopes (we calculate the Scots have just a 7.4% chance of beating New Zealand on neutral ground, with the finishing score currently expected to be 27 – 11 to New Zealand).
  • It’s just for fun! I know your team may not be as high as you want, and that you might disagree with certain %’s. Feel free to make any comments about what you think may or may not happen. And if it makes you really angry then save this page, come back after the World Cup has finished and shout at us then when you can say exactly how wrong we all were. Everyone loves Captain Hindsight.

Hang on a minute. Aren’t Wales the world’s best side? Why aren’t they favourites?

Wales are currently second in the World Rankings, but very briefly were ‘unofficially’ top last weekend at one point between matches. However, I feel World Rugby’s rankings system can sometimes overestimate teams given certain schedules and home and away status. Even though Wales have a good chance of going top ‘officially’ this weekend (beat England and they will be ranked first), using Rugby4Cast’s own ranking system we actually calculate their position much lower.

Sixth?! That’s outrageous / very satisfying . I’d like to see you hung, drawn and quartered / knighted [delete according to nationality].

Yes, well. That’s what it says. For more information on the details, how they are calculated and differences between the ranking systems, see here. In short, the Elo system reflects team strength a little better by incorporating match expectation into the calculation, rather than just the final match outcome. In fairness, it’s close in the middle. There really isn’t much between 2nd and 6th and we could see a lot of movement over the next few weekends. Come back to check on how the rest of the warm up matches have affected team ranking.

Fine. What next?

That’s it for starters. I think the above should have sufficiently annoyed at least 50% of the readership. We’ve got a whole host of other things that we’ll be putting out in the run up over the next few weeks, but let us know if there is anything you’d particularly like to see and we can try and oblige.

Excellent. I look forward to it. Thanks very much.

You are most welcome. Stay safe out there.

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