Brawn vs brain? Data geeks try to win Rugby World Cup

rugbyBig brands might be preparing for a scrum down over who can triumph at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, but the data geeks are hoping to provide the real winners of the competition – even before a ball has been kicked in anger.
Leveraging data from Opta, Alteryx has built a predictive model to analyse every kick, tackle and try from over 1,000 matches worth of international test match data from the last 12 years – including the last three World Cups – to not only predict the winner but also the quarter- and semi-finalists.
The linear regression model used, predicts the outcome of each match and the winning margin by targeting the points difference for each game and variables built around the form of each team coming into the match (win percent, tries per game etc), their ranking difference compared to the opponent, and their recent history against that particular opponent (last win/loss margin, win percent).
With this model, Alteryx predicts the outcome of the pool matches and the route to World Cup triumph.
It reckons the quarter finals will see Ireland beat South Africa by 7 points; New Zealand drub Scotland by 18 points; England vanquish Australia by 11 points; and Wales conquer France by 12 points.
In the semis, Wales will triumph over Ireland by 7 points and New Zealand will see off England but only just, by a margin of just 3 points.
In the final, New Zealand will overpower Wales by 8 points, giving the All Blacks a third consecutive title.
Alteryx chief data and analytics officer Alan Jacobson said: “Whether you need to crunch big data sets or tackle complex analytical predictions to increase percentages, data has become a vital part of both player and game appraisal analysis.
“From performance data accrued through wireless-enabled wearable activity trackers to predicting training loads or identifying key injury triggers, predictive and spatial tools are changing the way sports are played as teams turn to data to achieve a competitive edge.
“By building advanced predictive models to exploit past match and individual performance data in order to garner complex insights we can realistically predict New Zealand will be the ultimate tournament winner in Japan.”
One note of caution, however, for anyone planning on putting their house on these predictions. The Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon did not go quite as planned…

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