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Monday, July 19, 2004

Analysing Sport 

I was doing a bit of browsing and I noticed that we seem to be getting some slightly conflicting write ups in the media regarding the AB v Wallaby test match in the weekend.
Now of course when you have sport you are always going to get differing opinions but some of it seems to indicate that either a) people saw different games or b) people just didn't really watch it that closely.
Here's what David Long wrote in about Xavier Rush (note I generally find Long's player ratings to be ok but I would probably disagree significantly with about half of his comments and score every time, I'd like to know how long he has before publishing deadlines):
Tackled non-stop all night and revelled in the style of game played because of the poor weather. Was even better in the second half and arguably had his best game yet for the All Blacks. 8 [/10 rating]

Now I agree that Rush did play a good game.  Certainly better than many of his team mates but according to Tracey Nelson's statistics from the match he only made two tackles in the second half after making five in the first.  Certainly two tackles is hardly a lot and an average of one tackle every 11 and a half minutes doesn't seem "non-stop" to me, but then again the ABs dominated possession so much that he wouldn't have had to make many.  Also number 8's are supposed to drop deep to field kicks very often and if you drop deep and the opposition make a few hitups you again are not in much of a position to be scoring tackling points.
Anyhow where I thought Rush had a good game was with the ball in hand.  He made some decent runs and seemed to be getting right in there in the second half.  It's a shame that Tracey Nelson doesn't record the number of times a player handles the ball in the match as we really need to know that to see how much a player contributed and also how many metres they gained.  But that would take her an eternity to do on top of the other stats which is why we need somebody out there helping her!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If we had kept stats on ball handling and metres gained we could have seen that Ruben Thorne received the ball from the ruck 23 times in a game for a net loss of 33 metres :)
One other thing I'm confused about is how the "first 3 to breakdown" is counted.
For instance Marshall is recorded as being in the first 3 to the breakdown twice despite making 4 tackles in the match.  Now obviously when a player is first to the player with the ball and then tackles them then they are FIRST to the breakdown.  In fact they are causing the breakdown.  I'm not sure why it wouldn't include those statistics but I suppose she doesn't want to give players credit twice for one act.  But IMO tackles are generally more important than merely turning up in the first three and there are relatively few of them in a game.  Take a look at Hayman's figures for example, he made a mere three tackles in the match but was in the first 3 to the breakdown 36 times, a big effort from a big guy.
Anyhow, the statistics she provides are pretty informative all the same.
It's quite amazing that in the year 2004 there aren't far more comprehensive statistics kept by the footballing bodies themselves.  LAZY ARROGANT PRICKS pure and simple. 
Check out the NRL for how it should be done.
I can see that in 2004 Richard Villasanti has made 254 tackles this season.  The AB's combined for 50 tackles against Australia while making 114 against the Pacific Island team , 104 against Argentina, 95 in the second test v England and 87 in the first test for a combined 450 in 5 tests.  So they average having to make 90 a game.  The Warriors made 288 in the game v the Rabbitohs in the weekend as a comparison of the codes.
Back to Villasanti he averages 16.9 tackles per game and has made 15 offloads, assisted for one try, made 2 line breaks, 161 hitups for 1381 metres gained for an average of 8.57 metres per carry, made 5 dummy half runs, comitted 19 errors and missed 31 tackles.
Oh to have a few statisticians recording that type of thing in NZ and making the information publicly available.
Hell while I'm at it here are the league leaders from the NRL this year...
POINTS: Hazem El Masri 194 (Bulldogs)
TRIES: Amos Roberts 18 (Panther but signed for the Roosters for 2005)
GOALS: Hazem El Masri 79
TACKLES: Matt Hilder 600 (Sharks)
OFFLOADS: Clinton Schifcofske 61 (Raiders)
KICKS: Kurt Gidley 229 (Knights)
TRY ASSISTS: Matt Orford 29 (Storm)
LINE BREAKS: Willy Tonga 20 (Bulldogs)
HITUPS: Clinton Schifcofske 342
METRES: Clinton Schifcofske 2945
Right back to the rugby test.  One review I did like was this one at the haka website.  In fact it's damn near perfect as far as I am concerned.
My favourite lines coming at the beginning.  His straight shooting style reminds me of somebody...
The conditions have been called "very, very tough" (Nathan Sharp), and "atrocious" (some dumbass journalist) [Tracey Nelson referred to the conditions as being "atrocious" actually muhahaha], but in fact what we had was an averagely cold winter's evening with some rain. What we didn't have was the mud of a badly drained footy pitch, heavy kit, and a heavy leather ball of yesteryear. So don't talk to me of "atrocious", that's complete bollocks, and no excuse for some of the crap passing and catching (or lack of it) going on in our backline. The phrase "couldn't catch a cold" came to mind, especially when Rokocoko gifted the Wallabies an ill-deserved try from a fuckup under an aimless high ball from Giteau.

and then he/she later nails the perfect comparison...

So, it wasn't at all clinical the way, to take an example, the All Blacks of 1996 were in their 43-6 demolition of Australia at Athletic Park that year in what has been rightfully dubbed The Perfect Game. Also played in "atrocious" conditions (this time with the mud), the Australians were left in NO doubt who was second best on the scorebaord. In this test we have more or less 80% territory and struggled to put the game away. The effect was the Wallabies were in with a chance of winning the test for some 76 minutes.



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