Please welcome Dominic Tracey of Rugby.net. His website is a statistician’s dream.
RWU HEADQUARTERS – Since deciding a player of a match or a team of the tournament can be arbitrary, we decided to make it a much more fair process. The one thing that is not partial to anything put the facts is Science. Well it is partial to parameters but that is it. Simply put, we compile our lists from player ratings that help us answer the questions “who is best?” and “what makes them the best?”
The ratings are based on a variety of objective criteria – meaning that they aren’t simply our opinion of who is best, they are calculated by what we call our Rating Engine. The Rating Engine is a complex beast, with spreadsheets and stuff, that we can ask questions of like, “Who is the best fullback in the world this year?” or “Who were the best players last weekend?”.
The Rating Engine takes in the information we feed it (statistics, standings, match results, etc) and produces a rating for each player. We sort these ratings and the first ten become a Top Ten List we publish here on the site.
Rating and comparing player performances is the exercise of converting statistics and other observable criteria into numbers that reflect the quality of the performances that generate them. There is certainly both art and science to the process and we have taken an iterative approach to develop a mechanism that meets these objectives:
-Recognizes that rugby requires certain core skills of every player on the pitch: passing, running, tackling, etc.
-Recognizes that each position in rugby has unique aspects that allow players to differentiate themselves: set play, kicking, etc.
-Compares performances not just within a single match, but across two or more matches, by allowing the strengths of the teams and competitions to be factored into the player ratings.
One principle we strive for is “positional parity”, or the idea that no one position is more important than another. While the flyhalf may garner all the popular press for scoring 30 points in a match, we look deeper to note who won the battle of the front rows, who cracked open the tension with a line break or offload in contact and who was shaky under the high ball.
We produce the lists and some analysis of the players throughout the week. They are drawn from a variety of international and domestic competitions and we seek to craft lists that help understand the nuances of the ever-changing world of top flight rugby.
Now with all the explaining done, here is our 6 Nations Team of the Tournament:
1 – Joe Marler (ENG)
2 – Rory Best (IRE)
3 – Dan Cole(ENG)
4 – Alan Wyn Jones (WAL)
5 – Paul O’Connell (IRE)
6 – Peter O’Mahony (IRE)
7 – Chris Robshaw (ENG)
8 – Billy Vunipola (ENG)
9 – Connor Murray (IRE)
10 – George Ford (ENG)
11 – Jack Nowell (ENG)
12 – Robbie Henshaw (IRE)
13 – Jonathan Joseph (ENG)
14 – Anthony Watson (ENG)
15 – Stuart Hogg (SCO)
16 – Dylan Hartley (ENG)
17 – Jack McGrath (IRE)
18 – Mike Ross (IRE)
19 – Johnny Gray (SCO)
20 – Toby Faletau (WAL)
21 – Ben Youngs (ENG)
22 – Dan Biggar (WAL)
23 – Jared Payne (IRE)
Finally, breakout by nationality: 10 English, 8 Irish, 3 Welsh, 2 Scottish. You have your Lions Squad, right there. Just saying. A couple of other notes:
- England have the upper hand in many of the positions but, on the whole, they had the most comfortable time of the tournament despite coming out second best in the end.
- Jack Nowell remarkably pips Anthony Watson for top wing after playing only three of the five rounds. It wasn’t a very good tournament for wings, tbf.
- Stuart Hogg recaptures the fullback list from Leigh Halfpenny after he went off early after that heavy tackle on the-bloke-who-wasn’t-Parisse.
- James Haskell‘s tenuous position in the flanker list crumbles under his feet and he drops below POM and Sam Warburton at the wire.
Feel free to comment below. If you have a list you would like to see (e.g. “Who are the best South Africans playing in Europe now?”) drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do! You can also find us on Twitter or Facebook. While your Facebook “Like” the Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow the RWU staff on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Nick Hall, DJ Eberle, Jake Frechette, Scheenagh Harrington, Jamie Loyd, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Audrey Youn, Akweley Okine and Declan Yeats, respectively.