Field Theory by Hadyn Green


Good shot old chap

As fun as it is to bitch about things we hate (and even more fun to swear about them) it always does the spirit good to look at the good things happening in the world. And in particular (for this blog) the sports world.

First up, an historic day as an underprivileged minority is finally acknowledged! On Monday a group of individuals finally had their contributions to the sport of golf honoured: Lefties. Oh and New Zealanders

Sir Bob Charles became the first left-handed player to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. And I suppose he is also the first New Zealander too, but the left-handed thing is bigger.

Charles, 72, the first New Zealander and the first lefty to be selected to the shrine, won the 1963 British Open. It is the highlight of a lengthy career that is still ongoing--he finished T-20 last week in the Russian Seniors Open in Moscow. "I've actually lost count," Charles said when asked how many times he has equalled or bettered his age. "I started bettering my age at 65. I've been able to [do it] every year since then." Charles has six PGA Tour victories, 24 international titles and 23 wins on the Champions Tour.

And check out how he wowed the ladies in this shot. They can’t even stand straight.

And remember the marathon runner from last week who Nike wouldn’t say was a winner even though her time was faster than the “elite” runners? Well it looks like they missed a trick:

On Thursday, representatives from Reebok, Nike's arch-rival, surprised O'Connell with a special awards ceremony at her Beginning with Children Charter School in Brooklyn, New York.

Reebok presented O'Connell with the following: a free pair of shoes every month for a year, T-shirts for everyone in her class, and a $2,500 donation to her school.

They also gave her a F.U.N. Award with a trophy inscribed with "Winner and Heroine of Non-Elite Runners Everywhere." According to Reebok the N "does not stand for Nike".

Another quick uniform note: despite the minute of silence for Remembrance Day before the Scotland test, neither team had poppies on their uniform. Strange given that it’s not an unprecedented thing for the All Blacks.

I also did some (very quick) analysis of Tracey Nelson’s stats (what is it with geeks and data).

What's clear to see in Tracey's numbers (after playing with the numbers in excel for a few minutes) is that we had a much more productive second half. For example we made 45 tackles in the first half and 59 in the second (this may be due to Scotland's increased possession in the second half where they were camped on our line). From informal observation this often seems to be the case with the All Blacks (especially against second tier nations) as fitness prevails and quality subs become important.

I also created a variable called "Total Tackle Incidents" (TTI). It's a very basic proxy and is just "tackles made" + "assisted tackles" + "first 3 to breakdown". First 3 is a weird stat, because I assume it's both offensive and defensive, and is simply a proxy for "attempts to secure the ball".

Also if you take it that only the first three players to the breakdown are effective in gaining possession then First 3 can be considered to be a similar stat to "tackles" or "line breaks", and it becomes a unit of work on the field. (I am also looking at changing First 3 to a rate per 15 men on the field, but I'm still figuring out how that works)

So with that in the

first half we had 121 TTI and in the second half we had 226 TTI (almost double!). This mainly comes from our reserves like McCaw and Filipo who came on with an amazing work-rate. Also players like Toeava*, Tuitavake and Boric making more tackles in the second half.

*UPDATE: I checked this and naturally there was a mistake in my calculations. Toeava’s tackles were counted in the second half instead of the first.

Interestingly our assisted tackle numbers drop considerably in the second half, especially in the forwards.

The stats also show that Mealamu was the only player not to record a tackle, but he did miss one.

And our new work-horses are Read, Messam and Thompson (I know, duh)

For those who like such things we can guesstimate what McCaw would've done if he was on the field all game (sort of, it's based on the performance of his "lesser mortal" teammates):

  • 5 tackles
  • 2 assists (rounded)
  • And first 3 to the breakdown 41 times!

But, is he one of the 25 hottest men in the world? Depends on who you ask I suppose.

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