After a reasonable amount of success predicting round 1 (apart from that game), it’s now time for round 2 before things get underway. Firstly, I have re-run the ratings model to include the results from the RWC round 1 games. Just like World Rugby’s official rankings, I have given all RWC games double weighting. The updated ratings are:
There have been a few movers & shakers following the Round 1 fixtures. Japan and Georgia are the big winners, moving up 8 ratings points each. The losers, unsurprisingly, are the two teams that lost against them – South Africa and Tonga. Interestingly, Namibia and Romania moved down in the ratings, despite not playing – this is due to the change in ratings of teams they have played recently, meaning the model has recalibrated its ratings for these two teams. Ireland and Argentina have also moved up, Argentina now sitting above France, and Ireland sitting clear at #2 (excluding home advantage).
One interesting result is the instability of the home advantage score (this is one reason why it is in multiples of 5). Our home advantage estimate of several of the teams that performed better than expected (Argentina, Georgia, Ireland, Japan) has dropped, as their good away-from-home performance forced the model to recalibrate. Similarly, South Africa’s home advantage estimate has increased to 10 – it is much harder to beat the Boks on the veldt than at the English seaside.
So, what does this mean for our match predictions? Here they are:
First, note that I have only included home advantage for England (and Wales, when they play in Wales). This is more correct than my half-way solution from the previous round – it is certainly more in-line with the data inputs into the model.
So, the interesting predictions: Japan to beat Scotland in a very close game, South Africa to easily account for Samoa despite their loss to Japan, Argentina to show Northern Hemisphere scribes that they are significantly better than a team knocking on the door of the 6 nations, and NZ to have the biggest win of the round. Let’s see how we go!