Tackle %: attempting to quantify defensive involvement for rugby league

This article was originally posted on Medium in October 2019

When defensive effort or involvement is talked about in rugby league circles, especially in mainstream media analysis, it eventually comes down to who made the most runs and who completed the most tackles. On the defensive side of things, more tackles equals more effort and more impact, right?

Usually the players who would be talked about are those topping the tackle counts. Mahoney led the National Rugby League (NRL) in total tackles this season with 1,052 tackles in 1,739 minutes 24 games. McInnes led the NRL in average tackles per game, with 45.8 from 23 games. Does that make them the best defenders in the game?

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Examining potential NRL Supercoach scoring changes

It may be Mid-November with the Ashes not far away, but that’s no excuse to stop Supercoaching.

Last week the Daily Telegraph revealed some possible scoring categories for the 2018 season, with Supercoaches voting on which one they’d like to see included. If you haven’t seen them, the proposed changes are available here, with the current voting below from around 2,500 responses at the time of writing:

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NRL Supercoach: Why you don’t chase last week’s points

Preface: this was written in early 2018 for NRL SupercoachTalk

An (alleged) wise man once said, “Damnation awaits those who chase last week’s points”. The rule of thumb in Supercoach is that you don’t trade in a player after a huge game expecting the big scores to continue.

The chances of the mid-price CTW who crossed for three tries without anyone within 30 metres of on the way to scoring 100+ again is less likely than a Wally Lewis getting through 10 minutes without uttering the phrase “dictating terms”. It’s not only improbable that they continue that form, but you usually have to spend more trades digging yourself out of the hole you traded yourself into.

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NRL Supercoach: value of a win?

Preface: this was written in early 2018 for NRL SupercoachTalk

How much is a win worth?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent many hours – usually on a Thursday or Friday evening –  pouring over information when trying to decide who to play or who to captain for an upcoming round.

There’s many things that usually factor into these decisions. It’s been raining in Auckland, should I move the VC off Shaun Johnson? Should I play everyone I have who is facing the Knights or Titans? Jordan Rapana has the Tigers this week up against their defensively challenged outside backs, should I straight captain him? Cameron Smith is coming off five days rest, just how many unicorn points can he get?

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Expected Value for NRL Supercoach

Preface: this was posted on NRL SupercoachTalk in early 2019.

Part of the allure of NRL Supercoach for many, including myself, is the fact it is number based. You can’t argue with numbers, unless you’re one of those obsessives who complain about review scores (ONLY AN 8.8!?).

Thanks to this, we can unequivocally state that Damian Cook is better than Michael Lichaa as we have the numbers to prove it. But what if we wanted to prove that someone was scoring better than the average player in the same spot? Could we quantify if a player outperformed their own situation, if they were just making up the numbers or if they were actually a negative on the field?

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