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Breaking Down the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship Athstat Advisor’s AI Modeling

Athstat Advisor: Focused Insights and Strategies

The Athstat Advisor is our Artificial Intelligence (AI) learning model that predicts game outcomes and identifies performance improvement recommendations based on a multitude of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and data points ingested into our analytical platform. The model can be trained against a team’s data or from open source data as we did with the analysis described in this article.

This month we’ve been analyzing the Women's 6 Nations Rugby Championship that recently  came to an exciting end. As we look back on the tournament, we look at performance indicators and recommendations for improvement across all teams. In this post-tournament analysis, we'll explore what made the winners stand out and what the other teams can do to improve.

Post-Tournament Analysis

What set England and France apart from the rest?

England and France were the top teams in the championship because they excelled in specific categories that determined their chances of winning. There is fairly large performance gap between England, France, and the rest of the field.  France's only defeat came against England in an evenly matched-38-33 game. These top two teams were the only ones with a positive point difference.

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A qualitative comparison of the game's key performance indicators shows that the two teams are evenly matched in this regard. So what is it that allowed England to beat France by 5 points? Was it luck? Skill? Experience? Or did the rugby gods simply decide that England should win this match?  Since it is England and France against the rest, how do these teams compare to each other and how do they compare when they play the rest of the teams? What makes those two teams better? What can Ireland and Italy do to close the gap? What can Wales do to catch up with the two leading teams? We help answer these questions below.

What explains England's win over France?

England's victory over second-placed France can be attributed to their superiority in several key areas. The English team had both better defense and attack compared to the French team.  

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  • France outperforms England in Tackle Made (%) by 1.27%
  • England outperforms France in Opposition Scrums won by 14.29%
  • France outperforms England in (%)Possession in Opp22 by 13.69%
  • England outperforms France in Territory by 4.96%

The game between England and France can be described as a tactical battle.

Both teams used specific strategies and tactics to gain an advantage over their opponents.

An analysis of the key performance indicators (KPIs) reveals different tactical approaches taken by each team. England focused on possessing the ball in their own half, successful tackling, and winning turnovers. This indicates a strategy of strong defensive play, capitalizing on turnovers, and building attacks from their own territory. Their higher percentage of possession in their own half and successful tackles show their defensive discipline and ability to disrupt the opposition's play. On the other hand, France emphasized possession in the opposition's half and the 22-meter line. They excelled in these areas, with a higher possession percentage and dominance in the opposition's 22. This suggests a strategy of attacking play, putting pressure on the opposition's defense, and seeking scoring opportunities closer to the try line. Their focus on possession in the opposition's half indicates a desire to control the game and maintain attacking momentum. The tactical nature of the game is further highlighted by the differences in other KPIs such as lineouts won, missed tackles, missed conversions, and penalties conceded. These factors reflect the teams' tactical decisions and execution on the field. For example, England's higher number of missed conversions may indicate the importance of converting scoring opportunities, while France's advantage in lineouts won showcases their effectiveness in set-piece plays.

Overall, the tactical choices made by both teams influenced their game plans, style of play, and ultimately, the outcome of the match. The game featured a strategic battle between England's defensive prowess and turnover ability versus France's attacking intent and possession-based approach. By excelling in these critical areas, England outperformed France and emerged victorious.

Which teams performed best based on specific KPIs?

Beyond the overall rankings, specific KPIs can provide insight into the top-performing teams in unique areas. While the official Power Rankings can shed light on player categories such as backs and forwards, the following KPIs were particularly noteworthy:

  • Turnovers won: England
  • Opposition Scrums won: England
  • Line Outs won: France
  • Missed conversions: England
  • Possession in opposition Half: Wales
  • Possession in Own Half: Italy
  • Ruck Speed 3-6 Sec: Wales
  • Balls kicked: Italy
  • Missed Tackles: Ireland
  • Possession in Opp22: France
  • Tackle Made: France
  • Possession: England
  • Territory: Wales
  • Turnover Won: England
  • Total Successful Tackles: Scotland
  • Total Penalties Conceded: Wales
  • Balls played with hands: England
  • Possession Kicked: Italy

Tournament Prescriptive Report

To improve and win in future competitions, lower-ranked teams can learn from the impressive performances of England and France. A thorough analysis of the differences between these top-performing teams and the others can provide valuable insights into areas that need improvement. By combining several all-game performance indicators, teams can be clustered into 3 groups.  England and France are in the same cluster as expected, and Wales stands out on its own. Certain KPIs are "peculiar to each cluster".  An analysis of the non-trivial correlation between KPIs and results shows that the following KPIs strongly influenced the results table.

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The analysis of the correlations reveals several key performance indicators (KPIs) that are consistently associated with different performance metrics.

Influential factors:

- Missed conversions

- Tackle success rate

- Opposition scrums won

- Possession in the opposition's 22

- Territory

Missed conversions have a negative impact on points scored, but a positive impact on points difference, as players score tries even if they don't convert. These insights emphasize the significance of accuracy in conversions, effective tackling, dominance in set pieces, and territorial control for team success in terms of points scored, points difference, and overall points.

How can bottom teams improve to win the trophy?

Teams in Cluster 1 - Italy and Scotland - need to improve in several areas to match the performance of the top teams and increase their chances of winning a game:

- Tackles Made: +4.1%

- Opposition Scrums: +566.7%

- Possession in Opp22:  +51.3%.

- Territory: +21.6%

Teams in Cluster 2 - Ireland and Wales - need to work on the following key points:

- Tackle Made: +11%

- Opposition Scrums won: +50%

- Possession in Opp22: +20%

- Territory: +3%

If Ireland and Wales can sharpen their skills in these specific areas, they would have a chance of beating England, and France.

The Six Nations women's rugby tournament saw exceptional performances and intense competition between the participating teams. England's comprehensive display of skill and superior performance across various KPIs propelled them to victory.

Coming up

Get Ready for an In-Depth Analysis of the HSBC7s Tournament!

Prepare yourself for a thorough examination of the HSBC7s Tournament! We've begun training our model on the event and have created power rankings based on specific KPIs, including Top Performers, Restarts Won, and Stepped Defenders, for both male and female athletes. We'll keep a close eye on all the upcoming games and deliver new predictions and prescriptive data. Follow us on social media to make sure you get all the updates!

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A sneak peek at the HSBC7S power rankings we shared on social media

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