Friday, 7 June 2013

Starting XV Comparison: NZL v FRA

Its a new Test season, so I thought I would attempt a new graphic format looking at starting line-ups heading into a Test series. Often the media bang on about a team having 400+ caps or something as an advantage in experience over its opposition ... but what does that look like on the field? Is this experience evenly spread across the field, or even through the backs or the forward pack?

Or is it simply all riding the pine because its too past it to handle 80 minutes any more?

The French have supposedly brought out a young, slightly inexperienced team (well, who are we kidding ... they have), and New Zealand have also had to face up to a new starting team due to senior players being kept in a cryogenic state (McCaw), injuries (Weepu, Carter, Whitelock), and simply some new players banging the door down with their excellent Super Rugby form (Ranger, Afeaki, Ben Smith).

I came up with a layout that shows both teams laid out in a standard field formation, and settled on a (rather high) base measure of 100 Caps as the scale. I know 100 caps is a lot, but I think it allows you to see the difference in Test mileage between a warrior like Nonu and rookie Dane Coles pretty quickly.

So, the bigger the dot, the more Test caps, and the biggest dot in each position is the more experienced player wearing that number. Simples.

How do these two starting XVs weigh up as the whistle for kick-off gets ready to blow tomorrow night at Eden Park...

Clearly, it ain’t all one way traffic in favour of the All Blacks. Though our midfield pairing of Nonu and Smith stand out like the proverbial canine cojones, that’s it for us ... their is no other area we have the edge. Its actually pretty even in the locks and back threes, but the French seem to have more experience across the front row, with rake Szarzewski being a stalwart.

Personally, I think our loose forwards, especially Sam Cane who is marking Thierry Dusautoir, are up for a torrid night: Dusautoir, Picamoles and Ouedraogo are a mean unit, and Nyanga off the bench costs them nothing.

And our bench? Well, 155 Test caps between them doesn’t look bad until you realise 102 of them are tied up in Keven Mealamus’s troublesome calf.

So, its got to be crucial we clear rucks and get good ball for our backs. Stop that French loose trio and we’ll win, easy. Just like the World Cup Final, eh? Piece of cake.


PS Hopefully be back with infographic game sheets for All Black and Lions Tests ... I will do Starting XV comparison for Wallabies and Lions when the final 22s are named. If Deans makes up his mind, that is.


BigNose said...

How does that graphic look either with the 100-cap ring as a simple circle or with no 100-cap ring?

For me, the 100-cap ring looks too much like "data" and is distracting the reader away from the comparison that you're trying to present.

slugso said...

Hi BigNose

I know what you mean. I tried it first on an all black background, and nothin stoodout. Also tried it without the 100 cap scale, and the players with low cap numbers just 'floated' - it was hard to make out the positions and Imthink needed that anchor for comparison.

It does look data-y, I accept that, prob what I was looking for. But do you think you 'got it'? Was it easy enough to understand?

Points taken though, and tweaks will be made.

BigNose said...

I understood the concept from the get go - I just tripped up over the grey bits.

Also you have the classic problem with the "size-of-the-spot" presentation with the skew in emphasis that the area gives (three-times the radius = nine-times the area).

TBH, in this kind of comparison, simple side-by-side histograms probably convey the correct detail.

The positional layout combined with a height-standardised histogram would probably be the best way to show this, I reckon.

slugso said...

Oh, BigNose ... I remember you from RWC2011 now.

Yeah, your bug bear with proportional relationships and accurate radii does need to relax sometimes I think.

This is a simple visualisation of some numbers; it illustrates an idea with a very simple set of data.

I know this is not 'mathematically accurate', it is a 'comparison' where the players' experience is, in scale, proportionally compared to another (creating an on-field 'presence'), on a consistent base of the 100 cap diameter. And those skews of over emphasis make the weightings stand out even more which is good because this is for rugby fans, not data nerds.

I did it this way BECAUSE I did not want to do histograms or pie charts - that just puts a lot of people off, and there are plenty of other sources out there for info like that.

Also, when I do subsequent games, cross-referencing graphics like above from 2 or 3 games will be much easier in this format than comparing lots of histograms.

TBH, I'm pretty comfortable with my 'classic problem'.


BigNose said...

Can we still be friends :o}

BigNose said...

Thinking about this a bit more, and since it's only apparently you and me that care :o), this would work better with proportionately scaled player cartoons in team colours. Technically more challenging but more likely to get the point across.

Histograms, but *not* histograms if you see what I mean.