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The importance of fewer clubs at the top

Which Tyler

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Nov 12, 2015
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I like this, because it confirms my bias.
Former Wallaby tighthead Ben Darwin now works as a data analyst and is co-founder of GAIN LINE analytics in his native Australia. In the first-part of his interview he explained that after having to retire at the age of 26, he found out through a process of trial and error that his calling was in data analysis and not coaching.

In the second-part of his interview he tells RugbyPass about the Pro14's effect on Test rugby, how coaching and culture are not definitive keys to success and why England and France often underperform on the global stage

Having only four sides to pick from, for Ireland and Wales, and only two sides, for Scotland, has massively increased the cohesion figures for those three countries and allowed them to compete on the global stage in a way they had struggled to previously."

It's the reason why England and France often underperform in Rugby World Cups, Darwin believes. "The two unions have the biggest player bases and the most money – but it doesn't translate into easy success because of the diversity of their domestic leagues. It can have an impact, which you can see in the women's Six Nations, where England and France are entirely dominant over their amateur counterparts."

When the playing field is more level, however, those things don't give you the edge. "The long and medium-cohesion that teams like Ireland, New Zealand and Wales have gives them an advantage in the early stages of a tournament. As the tournament progresses, however, the short-term cohesion factor comes into play, allowing England and France to catch up and – on occasion – pull away."


Anyone for an 8 team Premiership?
Just take the 8 most recent winners:
Saracens, Exeter, Northampton, Leicester, Harlequins, Wasps, Sale, Newcastle

3 x South, 3 x Midlands, 2 x North

Just take the 8 most recent winners:
Saracens, Exeter, Northampton, Leicester, Harlequins, Wasps, Sale, Newcastle

3 x South, 3 x Midlands, 2 x North

I actually quite like that, but would add another 8 from Celtic nations to form a B&I League.
4 Irish, 2 Welsh and 2 Scottish.

My Celtic teams
Ulster, Leinster, Munster, Connacht
Swansea Bay Ospreys, Cardiff Dragons, (these are the names of the city regions in South Wales and cover West Wales and East Wales respectively)
Edinburgh, Glasgow
Sorry what surprising results?

I've always heard 'a winning team is a settled team' since I was a kid. Stating 'if you make no changes your chances of winning are 49%' is fair enough but that's just confirming statistically what has been known empirically. What is the data saying we didn't know already?

Is cohesion really the one aspect that has been overlooked in the game? Where's the evidence? Top 14 teams spend 10 months of the year together train every day play every weekend. I think working on improving individual concentration, visualisation and psychology are the most overlooked aspect of the game in French rugby, not cohesion.

Darwin states obvious points as scientific evidence like 'success is built slowly based on stability'. I agree but this is science catching up with empirical evidence again...Noves is the most successful club coach in rugby because he stayed in the job longest (25 years).

England didn't underperform in the last RWC. They made the final.
Is size of playing population a relevant metric? NZ have a small population but they have the ABs. I think they are other criteria than Darwin overlooks. France and England are the more consistent performers of the NH teams at RWCs. The Pro 14 is the one that underperforms in RWCs.

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