# Field Theory by Hadyn Green

## 262 Responses

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• Since I live in Mangere, I will be supporting my local team. Tonga. I invite you all to come down to the Fan Zone (tm) and join me. Actually, the Mangere centre is a pretty good space to be in to be watching any of the island games. Alcohol free, which I was initially skeptical of, but the level of enthusiasm here is well beyond what alcohol could deliver...

According to that article….

1) No team is likely to win… they all have a probability of less than half.

2) the All Blacks probability of winning, despite being lower than 50%, is still higher than double any other team.

I would suggest that #2 makes more sense than #1, seeing as, it’s impossible for no team to win the cup.

I haven't read the article. I will in a moment, but just wanted to make a simple point about probabilities. A team must win the cup; the sum of probabilities is 1. If all teams were equal, their probability would be .05. Obviously, the All Blacks are ranked higher than others, but were they to have a better than even chance >.5, all other teams would share the other .5. They're not that outsize.

Dili, Timor-Leste • Since Nov 2006 • 1955 posts Report Reply

• Okay, that article is rubbish.

0.472 + 0.213 + 0.133 + 0.077 + 0.061 + 0.027 + 0.009 + 0.008 + 0.008 = 1.00800

I don’t care too much how they came to their assumptions. You simply can’t give Tonga and Samoa non-zero values. In a knockout competition that’s an untenable assumption, and giving zero values to the remaining eleven teams is also questionable.

But the fact that they sum to more than one shows that their model is broken.

I'm not a stats/probability geek. But literally the first thing they teach you is that the sum of all sample points must equal one.

Dili, Timor-Leste • Since Nov 2006 • 1955 posts Report Reply

• Is all rubbish. This talk about choking and what not.

Or at least it doesn't mean anything other than that the ABs are what this little party is always about.

If you are any other coach in the world, when the draw gets announced, the first thing you do is work out when you are destined to meet the ABs.

Everything else is secondary that. You hope like hell that it's the final; if only because that increases the odds that some other bastard will knock the ABs out for you.

Your game plan for the cup is your game plan for beating the ABs. For every ten minutes you spend on analysing other teams you spend an hour on the ABs.

No wonder we have a high 'choke' history. Every team we play, sees that game as their final. We don't have that luxury. We can't. We can say we do, and get the psychologists into the lads' heads to try and make it so, but it's fake. For our opponents it's real.

The ABs meet every team at their best. It's the game they pull it all out for. It's the game their players have dreamed about since they were kids.

It's a good thing for us. Let 'em laugh and troll about choking and what have you. We know. They know.

We own this tournament, even if we don't 'win' it.

And has been noted, we've never lost a single world cup game on home soil. Not one. So chin up.

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 156 posts Report Reply

• I completely lost my rugby mojo during that game 4 years ago. Since then I’ve barely watched a Super whatever-it-is-now game, and only watch tests from behind a cushion through my fingers these days.

Sad really. I used to love watching the ABs thrashing everyone in sight.

I remember having great arguments with the poms on The Guardian’s Comment is Free threads during the last WC – especially when they brought up the old “you guys steal the best players from all the other Pacific nations" and “you’re a bunch of chokers” chestnuts.

“We are so NOT chokers!” I would rant, stamping my tiny feet in disgust. “Best team we’ve ever had blah blah blah”. “I think we can win it this time yadda yadda”

*sigh*

I haven’t even visited Comment is Free this time. See – no mojo left at all.

Tell me when it’s safe to come out from behind my cushion, will you?

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 327 posts Report Reply

• 0.472 + 0.213 + 0.133 + 0.077 + 0.061 + 0.027 + 0.009 + 0.008 + 0.008 = 1.00800

Rounding to three decimal places presumably accounts for the minuscule overlap.

The key point - and forgive me for repeating myself - is this: Just because the All Blacks are the favourites, does not mean that they will probably win the competition.

Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

• 中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 886 posts Report Reply

• Alex Coleman, in reply to chris,

Not sure I’m following you Chris.

Not World Cup games, not at home, not ABs.

IN any case, my point was a silly one, but I stand by it none the less. It’s no more silly a record than the ‘choking’ one.

Edit: Oh. I see now. The fact that SA wasn't here is by the by. They weren't here. And a good thing too.

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 156 posts Report Reply

• It’s no more silly a record than the ‘choking’ one.

True, I enjoyed your explanation above, nice perspective.

中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 886 posts Report Reply

• BenWilson, in reply to 3410,

Just kidding. I think I get that you're saying that there are too many variables for prediction to be a very useful endeavour.

To any person who likes to gamble, it's useful to do it with numbers. If you can do this kind of actuarial analysis, and the crowd of punters can't, and the odds flip all over the place, you can probably make good money on average by doing exactly that kind of analysis, and picking your time to bet. In fact, if you can work out the baselines of all the teams you can pick the right time to bet on all of them, and make certain money.

I made this probability point 22 days ago but without all the lovely probabilities in a table. Good find, 3410. I'm surprised that they rate us so high, really. Us having a 47% chance of winning seems impossibly high.

If we do win, I'm pretty sure that will also instantly make us the most successful team of all time in RWCs, all results considered. I hope that happens and the poms can choke on their choking comments.

Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 7147 posts Report Reply

• against "tier 1" teams we win 81.2% at home vs 67.3% away

A huge number of tier 1 teams send their second or third string to NZ for tours. We beat France here because they almost never send a top team. Every nation fields it's best at home and for the RWC.

You simply can’t give Tonga and Samoa non-zero values.

Yes you can, those just might describe that one of those teams would win about once every 250 years, by stringing together 3 very close, very lucky wins after scraping through the pool (presumably, as other top teams suffer much worse injury and their small pool of talent stays fit, gets a lot of the bounce, and the ones they can't beat go out to someone else).

Since Nov 2006 • 323 posts Report Reply

• Yamis, in reply to BenWilson,

If we do win, I'm pretty sure that will also instantly make us the most successful team of all time in RWCs, all results considered. I hope that happens and the poms can choke on their choking comments.

Don't know about that. It would only bring us up level with SA and OZ in terms of wins. If you look at a broader view then it's a bit debatable depending on what angle you take.

South Africa have 2 WC wins from 2 less tournaments than us, plus another loss in a final to go with the 03 quarterfinal exit. They've only ever lost two knockout games in 4 tournaments versus the ABs who have lost 5 knockout games in the last 5 tournaments.

In the knockout stages South Africa have won 7 and lost 2, versus the ABs who have won 8 and lost 5.

Even with an AB tournament win this time round I'd say we'd only come up about level with OZ, and perhaps still a touch behind SA.

ALL TIME KNOCKOUT GAME RECORD FOR THE BIG 5
SA: 7 wins, 2 losses
OZ: 9 wins, 4 losses
NZ: 8 wins, 5 losses
Eng: 8 wins, 5 losses
Fra: 8 wins, 6 losses

You can obviously only add one to your loss column at each tournament from knockout games, but the left column can go up by 1, 2 or 3.

Str-8 West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 815 posts Report Reply

• Webweaver, is there any room behind your cushion? I'm nervous.

Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3347 posts Report Reply

• It's...........................................................................only
.........a.................................game............
.....................................................isn't it......?

Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1315 posts Report Reply

• David Cormack, in reply to Ross Mason,

Yes....but no

Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

Webweaver, is there any room behind your cushion? I’m nervous

Four years ago you were hiding in the kitchen "frying anything [you] could lay your hands on". So it's good to see you've moved on :)

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2046 posts Report Reply

• This year I'll be happy with the ABs finishing in the top 10. Anything above that is just gravy.

Too much disappointment in the past, especially against teams that really failed to follow up their great performances against NZ in the semi with decent performances in the next match.

(France were awful against Aus in the 99 final and against England in the 07 semi, Aus let thier league converts throw the game away for them in the 03 final)

Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 541 posts Report Reply

• BenWilson, in reply to Yamis,

Don't know about that. It would only bring us up level with SA and OZ in terms of wins. If you look at a broader view then it's a bit debatable depending on what angle you take.

Yes, I did the sums a few weeks ago, and it was an evaluation not just of wins and losses in the tournament, but also placings. Consider also that if ABs win this time, that means the others have to have losses added into their totals.

However, good point, SA have had two less tourneys. That's something I hadn't counted. It's a little tricky, just off the example of a team that joined for the first time and won the tournament, making their win ratio 100%. Does that really make them the most successful? If you rank boxers, you don't place someone who has won their only fight above a champion of with 30 wins and 1 loss. Mind you, if that one win happens to be against that champ...hmmm tricky.

So yes, it's hard to get ahead of the SA record. But I think it would put us ahead of Oz - they have failed to make the top 4 twice, that's only happened to the ABs once. It would really depend where SA ended.

Interestingly, if France won, it would put them even with the ABs...they have done very well to get into the top 4. 5 out of 6 times. They're the team I'd most like to see win, if NZ doesn't, it would blow the southern hemisphere dominance wide open, and massively invigorate interest in the sport. Also, it would be very poignant, them having lost the final in Eden Park back in 1987. But only if they actually deserve it, of course. The best outcome is always that the team that plays best wins.

Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 7147 posts Report Reply

• I am just happy that I got \$2.15 on any team but the All Blacks to win. This is a statistically sound bet as I rate the probability of the All Blacks winning would have to be under 50%.

Place it will make the schadenfreude of their inevitable defeat even sweeter:)

Whangarei • Since Jun 2010 • 189 posts Report Reply

• FWIW, in head to head matches the top 5 have the following RWC records...

South Africa 7 wins, 3 losses
Australia 6 wins, 4 losses
New Zealand 6 wins, 6 losses
England 7 wins, 9 losses
France 7 wins, 3 losses

Str-8 West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 815 posts Report Reply

• That kind of bet is usually an insurance policy. You've upped your risk profile if you're also banking on the schadenfreude. I'm not sure what the German word for "sorrow one feels at missing out on schadenfreude" (verlorenschadenfreudenschade, vielleicht?), but you stand a good chance of feeling that, AND losing your money.

Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 7147 posts Report Reply

• bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

That kind of bet is usually an insurance policy. You’ve upped your risk profile if you’re also banking on the schadenfreude.

Of course I am actually taking it out as an insurance policy. But I try to tell myself that I don’t want them to win in the perverse and futile hope that this will change the result (funny how easily an otherwise logical person can quickly become superstitious when sports are involved and believe their own actions can somehow influence the result).

Love the idea of a word for “sorrow one feels at missing out on schadenfreude” – that word should exist because it’s a very real phenomenon – many people watch something hoping for schadenfreude only to be disappointed when it doesn’t occur.

Whangarei • Since Jun 2010 • 189 posts Report Reply

• I like the fact that Danielle was right on the money in that thread 4 years ago and Russell was only beaten by Chris Rattue in his wrongness. :)

I also like the fact I was apparently too terrified to even venture a thought on the matter. Still wakes me up at night...

Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 792 posts Report Reply

• That's scary reading back over that thread from four years ago.

I can feel the frustration bubbling up again

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

• Hey hey! Just got confirmation of some giveaways for you lucky folks during the cup. More info soon.

Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2046 posts Report Reply

• Danielle, in reply to Peter Darlington,

So it’s good to see you’ve moved on :)

I think when your first sporting love is the New Zealand cricket team, you can't ever be confident in life. :)

I like the fact that Danielle was right on the money in that thread 4 years ago and Russell was only beaten by Chris Rattue in his wrongness. :)

Yay me! Oh wait, it kinda sucks that I was right. Boo me!

Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3347 posts Report Reply

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