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So with the turning of the calendar, we now find ourselves in a World Cup year. How exciting! But how are the international sides performing? And how does this compare to previous years and cycles? Well, here is a (relatively) quick run-down of how each team is doing in the current 2019 Japan World Cup cycle. We’ll try to follow this piece up with a more detailed look at each team individually in the coming weeks.
Firstly, some context. The graph below shows how the last few World Cup winners have gone about building towards their eventual global title. It shows a rolling average of the teams previous 12 months win percentage for each of the 4 years in that particular World Cup cycle. A World Cup cycle is assumed to start at the end of the previous World Cup and continues until the end of the next.
Therefore, the yellow Australia 99 line shows Australia’s win percentages in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. England’s grey 03 line shows England’s win percentage in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 and so on and so forth.
For example, it can be read from the below that New Zealand in their 2015 cycle (denoted by the dashed black line) won 100% of their previous 12 months of games when they went from year 2 to year 3 (so from 2013 to 2014).
The orange line shows the average winning percentage of each of these World Cup winning cycles. For the purposes of this analysis, we consider it a good indication of where a team should be if they want to consider themselves World Cup contenders. However, as can be seen below by South Africa in 2007, it is by no means a requirement to meet these standards if you want to win the World Cup.
[We chose not to go any further back that 1999, as this was around when the ‘professional’ era began. Also, the number of matches each team played per year has remained roughly consistent since then.]
It should be noted that as this graph shows a rolling average, the South African’s final year in the 2007 cycle will look worse as it will include some 2006 results. If we take just 2007 alone South Africa won 77.8% of their matches. Because of this (and other reasons) 2007 may not the best comparison for World Cup winning cycles, but we’ll cover that in more detail in a later piece. Be sure to watch out for it.
We won’t try to infer too much as to the reasons behind these fluctuations, as it is really anyone’s guess and there will be some individual facts and circumstances for each. If you have any interesting thoughts then please let us know in the comments below, however an initial reading from 30,000 feet could be that:
So how are the sides performing currently? The below graph shows the current 2019 World Cup Cycles for Six Nations and Rugby Championship sides. Each side is represented by their national colour. The average win percentage of previous World Cup winners is shown by the same orange line.
Everyone will draw different conclusions from this so we’ll again leave you to decide exactly what to think about this. However, here are a few things that we think are worth mentioning:
Let us know your thoughts on the above, and anything else you might like to see.
Happy New Year!