28 November 2015

The SLP Super League All-Time Table (2015)

Rugby AM recently shared their all-time Super League table and a few people shared it our way, which we appreciated, but don't be thinking we (well, Mark) didn't already have our (his) own one ticking along!

So here it is:

You'll maybe notice a difference to the one shared by Rugby AM. We see the Super 8s phase of the season as the play-off phase rather than the regular season, so those games aren't included just like old-style play-offs and finals aren't counted.

The table speaks for itself, but there is something I want to draw people's attention to. Only six sides have a better than 50% win success and only seven sides have a positive points differential - one of the sides in both lists is Gateshead Thunder!

Also, before anyone brings it up, the ill-fated Shuddersfield merger is included in the Giants numbers. Not because we forgot it happened, but because we haven't forgot that they played their home games at Huddersfield in Huddersfield colours and were quickly just Huddersfield again after just one year.


26 November 2015

After Eights - Mark's Season Review

This year was the birth of the new era. The dawn of the eights. So I thought the most fitting way for me to wrap up 2015 would be to have a stats run-down of the Super 8s.

The two things I'll be looking at in detail are the match stats compared between the Super League 8s (SL8s) and Qualifiers 8s (Q8s), and the results of games across the whole of the season.
You would expect to see something in the numbers to highlight the difference in quality between the sides in the SL8s and the Q8s. Maybe not in attacking stats so much, but certainly in defensive and negative numbers (errors and penalties). 

What you actually see are remarkably similar numbers when looking at the averages from the 28 weekly round games in these competitions. So what observations, if any, can we make?
  • small differences in points per game and the metres numbers that maybe hint at what you would expect - a little more space for open play in Q8s than SL8s.
  • small difference in offloads that hint at a little higher skill level in SL8s than Q8s
  • small difference in errors and penalties do hint at lower fitness and skill levels in Q8s than SL8s
These just hint at things though, they certainly don't evidence a big gap between the top teams and the mid-ranking teams.

The most surprising numbers for me come when you look at missed tackles and tackle success. This is where I'd expect to see the intensity and fitness of the SL8s to show through, but there is no difference in these numbers.
It's when you look at the end results of the games though that you can pull out some more interesting observations.

  • Across the board, the 8s stage of the season sees more points per game - roughly an extra try per game - than the regular season does. A likely explanation for this is the games are played in the summer months, with drier weather and faster fields to run on. Whatever the stage of the season though, points scored each game is broadly similar across the top two levels of the game in the UK.
  • Top level games are generally closer on the final scoreboard than at the level down, whether this is the SL regular season or the SL8s. The biggest average gap in scores between the sides on the field was seen in Q8s.
  • As you move down the hierarchy, the amount of close games falls and the number of blow-out score lines increase. This does suggest that SL, with higher and more equal funding that assists a full cap spend, sees a more even spread of talent. Further down the hierarchy you see a more significant 'haves and have-nots' factor. You get full-time teams playing part-time teams. You see teams with active academies play those with no talent producing structure. You see those with full central funding play those who barely get a quarter million pounds funding. 
  • The big stand-out figure is undoubtedly the 61% of Q8s games that ended with a 18 point or more margin. It's a number that's significantly more than any of the others in this category. Tie that in with the average winning margin and you start to see a different picture than the match stats paint of the competitiveness and intensity of games in that middle 8. Making closer games in this Q8s phase is likely to be a factor that has motivated the change in salary cap at the Championship level - that, and only 2 wins by Championship clubs over SL clubs in the 16 opportunities for that to happen in the Q8s, and one of those was a game with nothing riding on it.
  • The breakdown of winning margins is where there is the most support for saying that Super League is the most intense, most competitive and most exciting level of the game in our country, especially at the SL8s stage when the best play the best each week. A high mark in the percentage of games with close finishes and the lowest figure for blow-out scores is complemented by the highest percentage of games in the balance at half time (14% drawn at half-time).
  • In the Championship, where we see some suggestion of disparity between the top and bottom sides, you see much less significance of home field advantage. This is probably an outcome of that disparity - the best teams will win whether they are home or away. Whilst the changes in the cap might help the top Championship clubs in the Q8s, it's not going to help the bottom Championship clubs beat them home or away in the regular season, so you'd expect this position to continue.
  • A lot has been made of earning that extra home game for the 8s from your regular season final placing. In actual fact, at the top level, home advantage dips a little in the SL8s compared to the SL regular season. In general though, where sides are more evenly matched (SL and the three 8s), home advantage is a significant factor in helping teams win a game. 
  • Another sign that the funding gap in the Championship doesn't make for a competitive regular season is when you look at how many games are effectively over at half-time - 77%, the high figure across the competitions. You wouldn't expect the salary cap changes to help remedy this, and all of a sudden John Kear's shortened Championship season idea is looking better. In fairness, a similar picture is seen across the board, with at least 71% of games going to the half-time leader in all the different competitions. That indicates first half performance and the way you start games is very important in rugby league. 
  • An interesting twist on from the half-time/full-time results is that Q8s is tied for the highest percentage of second half turnarounds. Given that the most one-sided games happen in the Q8s, this seems a contradiction. Without going into a game-by-game analysis, one possible explanation is that part-time or Championship sides can stick with the full-time or Super League sides for at least half a game, before the better fitness and conditioning of the better trained sides takes over after half-time. 
What we know is the 8s have brought some excitement. What we also know is they will keep being tweaked because more than being about 'Every Minute Matters', it seems to be about trying to please everyone. 

The cap changes announced already for the Championship should benefit the Q8s at the detriment of the Championship regular season. It might also put a bit more pressure on those SL clubs that are in the mix at the end of the regular season for falling into those Q8s spots. 

Whether these are good or bad things its hard to say at this stage, but I'm sure we'll all enjoy finding out in 2016 and beyond. And I hope you've enjoyed this post as well as the rest of the SLP output in 2015. I'm off to see how the NRL and League 1 fit into all this...see you next year! (and at Christmas...and on Twitter...and on Facebook!)


p.s. like us on Facebook gang, let's catch up to our great Twitter following yeah!?!

13 November 2015

2015 SLP Awards: The Results

Listener Voted Awards:

1) SLP Player of the Year
Winner: Adam Cuthbertson (40% of the vote)
Runner Up: Zak Hardaker (12%) 
Other vote earners: Danny McGuire, Jermaine McGillvary, Luke Gale, Jamie Peacock, Alex Walmsley, John Bateman, Adrian Morley, Tony Gigot, Luke Dorn, Kallum Watkins

2) SLP Young Player of the Year (must have been aged 21 or under on 4 February 2015)
Winner: George Williams (70%)
Runner Up: Niall Evalds, Andre Savelio & Jordan Abdull (5% each)
Other vote earners: Ben Currie, Mark Percival, Fouad Yaha, Theo Fages, Stevie Ward, Kruise Leeming, Joe Burgess

3) Best Import 
Winner: Adam Cuthbertson (66%)
Runner Up: Albert Kelly (13%)
Other vote earners: Josh Mantellato, Ben Roberts, Todd Carney, Adam Quinlan, Mark Minichiello
(2 ineligible votes)

4) Worst Import
Winner: Chris Sandow (63%)
Runner Up: Todd Carney (22%)
Other vote earners: Willie Tonga, Terry Campese, Dane Tilse, Ashton Sims
(18 ineligible votes)

5) Most Underrated Player
Winner: Carl Ablett (9%)
Runner Up: Ukuma Ta'ai, Stefan Ratchford, Scott Taylor, Luke Gale, Danny Houghton, Andy Lynch, Adam Swift, Adam Milner, Aaron Murphy (4% each)
Other vote earners: Zeb Taia, Tony Gigot, Scott Grix, Paddy Flynn, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey, Mitch Garbutt, Mike McMeekan, Mike Lawrence, Mark Percival, Liam Watts, Kevin Penny, Kallum Watkins, Josh Mantellato, John Bateman, Joel Moon, Joe Mellor, Dom Manfredi, Jamie Ellis, Grant Millington, Dom Crosby, Ben Roberts, Alex Walmsley

6) Most Overrated Player
Winner: Carl Ablett, Matty Smith, Kevin Locke, Chris Sandow (9%)
Runner Up: Stefan Ratchford, Sean O'Loughlin, Rangi Chase, Jon Wilkin, Daryl Clark, Danny Brough, Ashton Sims (4%)
Other vote earners: Travis Burns, Todd Carney, Scott Grix, Ryan Hall, Michael McIlorum, Mason Caton-Brown, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Justin Carney, Joel Tomkins, Joel Monaghan, Gareth Hock, Ben Westwood, Alex Walmsley, Albert Kelly, Adam Cuthbertson

7) Rugby League Beard of the Year
Winner: Kyle Amor (27%)
Runner Up: Craig Huby (24%)
Other vote earners: Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Tyrone McCarthy, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex Walmsley, Dave Hadfield, James Child, Patrick Ah Van, Roy Asotasi, Mark Illingworth, Tom Crook

8) Clown of the Year Award for funniest/daftest/most entertaining/craziest player this season
Winner: Anthony Gelling (43%)
Runner Up: Ashton Sims & James Child (7% each)
Other vote earners: Kevin Penny, Justin Carney, Danny Brough, Tony Clubb, Phil Clarke, Phil Bentham, Micky Higham, Marwan Koukash, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kevin Locke, Jamie Peacock, Fui Fui Moi Moi, Eorl Crabtree, Derek Beaumont, Ben Roberts, Adam Swift

9) The 'See You Next Tuesday' Award for general prickish behaviour in Rugby League
Winner: Marwan Koukash (20%)
Runner Up: Tim Smith (16%)
Other vote earners: Justin Carney, Danny Brough, Derek Beaumont, Jon Wilkin, Gareth Hock, Zak Hardaker, RFL Rules Committee, Racist Wakefield fans, Phil Clarke, Paul Anderson, Mose Masoe, John Bateman, Joel Tomkins, James Lowes, Darrell Griffin, Danny McGuire 

10) The 'Dr Bob Phillips' Award for Listener's Listener of the Year
Winner: Dr Bob Phillips (34%)
Runner Up: Tyler CasFan (31%)
Other vote earners: Diane LBW, Tim Griffiths, Dan Fowler, Wally Frogmore, Richard Wilkinson, Paul Lewis, Oliver Smith, Brian Davies

Host Chosen Awards: (named after the inaugural winners)

The 'Diane LBW' Award for Tweeter of the Year: Colin Render

The 'Scott Lister' Award for Facebooker of the Year: Brian Davies

The 'Paul Campbell' Award for Fan of the Year: Richard Wilkinson

The 'Dar Garner' SLP International Listener of the Year Award: Paul Michael Craig

The 'Andy Barden' SLP Listener of the Year Award: Tim Griffiths