You are here
A few weeks ago, I posted a kind of "power rating" for PRO Rugby. The idea is to construct a rating system that looks beyond wins and losses to the underlying factors that contribute to wins and losses. In the process, the hope is also to better understand which factors of a match are actually most influential in determining how likely a team is to win.
Denver is top of the league table, and top of this rating. Phew.
Next, and not that far behind, is Ohio. There is a good-sized gap between Ohio and San Diego despite the fact that those teams are tied on the league table, and they’ve split the two matches they’ve played. The central reason for that difference is try differential. San Diego has given up three more tries than they’ve scored, and that negative difference is a serious drag on their rating. Ohio, on the other hand, has scored 17 more tries than they’ve given up. That's an impressive figure.
That’s it, really. The rating is set up with the assumption that teams that score more tries than their opponents are better than teams that don’t. Given that the goal kicking in the league has been relatively poor—relative to other professional leagues—it seems an assumption that makes sense for PRO Rugby. For all their flair, San Diego is the PRO side with the lowest percentage of points coming from tries (53%). Unsurprisingly, Ohio has the highest percentage of points coming from tries (73%).
This rating does not take shifting lineups into account. In order to do that, individual statistics are needed. Even if we had those for PRO, things would be tricky. For instance, San Francisco was buoyed by the arrival of Bill Fukofuka and Mils Muliaina. Figuring out how to weight their performances from other leagues wouldn’t be easy. One way to improve the rating is to weight recent performances more heavily than older matches. That is a goal for next week.
Looking at the context surrounding Week 10, Denver v Ohio is close to a toss up, and an upset by San Francisco over San Diego would not be that crazy. The San Francisco heading into this weekend's match against San Diego is better than the team that went winless for the first four matches. (I know they lost the fifth match, but they were already showing signs of significant improvement.) San Diego will be weakened because of players out on international duty. The biggest loss is Joe Taufete'e.
San Diego has the league's worst lineout, but Taufete'e has been their best thrower. Below is a table that shows all PRO players with more than 10 lineout throws. Zach Fenoglio is part of the reason Denver has the league's best lineout. Ray Barkwill has the most crooked throws with four in 67 attempts.
A "clean" lineout win is one in which the ball is caught cleanly by the (apparent) intended target and then transferred to the next player (pass or maul).
For those interested, the claim that the goal kicking has been relatively poor is supported. The details of the goal kicks are here.
The league will start to look more like other professional leagues if the success rates for lineouts and goal kicks goes up (and number of scrums goes down).