RWC – is kicking important ?

Obvious you may say, but lets go beyond opinion and have an empirical look.

To recap what we’ve researched. We looked at each stage of each RWC held to date going back to 1987.   The data was sourced from the really helpful ESPN Scrum site .

The kicking variable we looked at was the percentage of points scored with the foot, measured over the four year window (i.e. four years) prior to each RWC.

So for example, lets use 1995.  We calculated the % of points scored with the foot in all international games played by all of the teams who competed in RWC 1995.

The idea was to see to what extent these teams has been dependent on kicked points (as opposed to tries scored).

What did we find ? Well, we found that it was a good indicator of success in the latter stages of the tournament, and particularly in the final.

How might one interpret this.  It could be that as the tournament progresses, it becomes tighter (in general). As a result, teams that have a greater reliance on kicking were more likely to progress.  Put somewhat more loosely, kicking seems to have really mattered.  No surprise perhaps, but this assertion is supported by robust empirical analysis.

Observation: a high proportion of points scored from the foot (4 years prior to each RWC) has been a good indicator of success in the latter stages of past RWCs (meaning reaching the final and then becoming champion).

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Empirical Rugby

Empirical Rugby is a blog that provides fundmental insight into rugby union using empirical analysis of rugby data.

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