Figure Hugging

There’s a popular cliché about lies, damned lies and statistics – it’s about how you can use stuff to ‘prove’ a moot point.

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Surprisingly, I once had what my wife called ‘a proper job’ in advertising and marketing (what she actually meant was not working for Chunky).

Anyway – we spent a lot of money on research – and much of this was a complete waste – especially when the budget could have been far better invested in entertaining (i.e. getting lashed with people we could put down as clients on expenses).

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Research costs are usually a waste when the results are of absolutely bugger all use in making sensible decisions. To stop this (and in order to boost ’entertaining’) we introduced a caveat for all research – ‘if you don’t know how you are going to use it, you can’t spend the money’ – this worked well since we also knew full well that we could make much better use of the released funds (it also made us very popular with the local hostelries).

We stopped surveys on ‘Why people find the chimps amusing?’, ‘should the Oxo box be blue?’ and ‘is Brazil associated with the finest coffee?’ I promise you I’m not making this up – at some point I’m going to relate some of the stories about the chimps in this blog – the link with rugby being that they often resembled some of our front row (that’s not true of course – some of the chimps were better looking and had more refined table manners)

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So what does this preamble have to do with rugby? Well in New Zealand they have been researching rugby kicks and kickers (kicks at goal not in open play) and a number of facts emerged –

Some grounds have better kicking percentages than others (really? – not all exactly the same then?)

Overall, 72% of the 6769 kick attempts were successful. 

Forty-five percent of points scored during the matches resulted from goal kicks, and in 5.7% of the matches the result of the match hinged on the outcome of a kick attempt.

There was an extremely large decrease in success with increasing distance and a small decrease with increasingly acute angle away from the mid-line of the goal posts (quelle surprise)

Comments in the survey included –

“We rated the importance of the kick, based on the scores at the time and how far into the match,”

“In general things become more important if the outcome is in more doubt”

“The most important kick then essentially is the one taken on the 80th minute with the match on the line.” (as opposed to what? The first minute at 0-0?)

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The last one smacks of the football interviewer who asks “Do you think that was a good time to score a goal?”

All very interesting I’m sure but I’m still wondering about how the f**k you use this information. Fascinating – a kick to win the match in the last minute has a lower chance of success!

I think you’re still unlikely to hear Ritchie shout –  “Oi Dan – your chances of winning us the game are pretty slim mate – just hoof it into touch and we’ll grab a beer” or a coach demanding to move the game to the Waikato Stadium so that his kicker will statistically have a better chance of getting conversions.

However, it was certainly illuminating to learn that kicks which are longer and from out wide are tougher – this must have come as a bit of a shock to the coaches. I imagine they will now encourage players to try and score nearer the posts thanks to this research (and yes – that was sarcasm!)

My point is – I have no idea how you can use the data to improve your chances of winning – far better to invest in a few Steinlagers and tell the guys that they can drink all they want – so long as they win!

I know it would have worked brilliantly as an incentive at Askeans

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