It's that time of year again. The 6 Nations has returned and plays host to some of the Northern Hemisphere's most talented rugby nations battling to claim the title of European champions.
As with most other sporting championships, it gives the public the opportunity to compete in fantasy leagues and assert their sporting prowess by selecting the combination of players that will collectively acquire the most points. There are a number of ways that a player can be assigned points,e.g. playing for the full 80 minutes accrues 3 points, whereas a "Man of the Match" performance is awarded with 5.
With reputation on the line, selecting a XV that is going to see you trump your peers, work colleagues, and family members, becomes an exercise of predictive analysis.
Determining the formula for success can be broken down into two elements:-
1) Base selections on subjective judgement which is what most people do.
2) Examine historical and current data which most people ignore
The infographic below shows that the most selected player - Rory Best - doesn't even feature in the overall highest point scoring team. However, it is his front-row colleagues in the Ireland team, Jack McGrath and Nathan White, whom each appear in the Dream Team based on points collected in the tournament thus far. Emotional perception overturns logical data!
Look at France which has 4 players in the Dream Team whilst none actually appear in the top statistically picked players, Subjective feeling outweighs the logical conclusion again.
Subjective judgement is where an agent is influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions, and in the case of fantasy teams can be the downfall of many a punter. W. Edwards Deming's quote - "Without data you're just another person with an opinion" should be the tenet by which fantasy teams are chosen.
Review available data, such as that on ESPN's Stats page, and form guides leading into the tournament. Build an objective approach to team selection and you can determine the answer to the question of whether Rory Best stays or goes.
OK, this might be too rigorous for some light entertainment, but the true lesson is that subjective judgement can lead to misinformed decisions so turn to available data before making decisions.
Take the test- if you think you have the winning combination of players, or have been inspired by this post, I have created a league - 'Best isn't Best' - on the ESPN website. To join enter the pin below, points will start from Round 3 of fixtures on February 26th when France travel to Cardiff to take on the undefeated Welsh team in their 6 Nations campaign:
Link to ESPN's Stats page: