Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Lies, damed lies and statistics...

Anyway, back to the good old British press and their coverage of the World Cup.

England have, it is widely reported, played boring and stodgy rugby. Wales, on the other hand, are now world beaters, second only to the All Blacks in their all round brilliance.

Just to show that facts should never get in the way of a good story, England’s record in this tournament so far is played 4 won 4, scoring 18 tries and conceding 1. Ireland have played 4 won 4, scoring 15 tries and conceding 3, while Wales have played 4 and won 3, scoring 23 tries and conceding 4.

Ah yes, exclaim the naysayers, but England’s pool was so much easier. Really? Wales have played teams ranked by the IRB (as at today) at 2, 11, 16 and 19. Ireland have played teams ranked 3, 12, 17 and 21, while England’s opponents are ranked 7, 10, 14 and 18. Not a huge difference then, especially when you take into account that Wales actually LOST to the number 2 ranked team.

This is not meant as a pop at Wales. They played well against South Africa, fought their way past Samoa and thrashed the lower two ranked teams in their group, much like England fought their way past Argentina and Scotland and thrashed Georgia and Romania.

What I don’t really get, then, is why England are being vilified by the press while Wales (and, to a lesser extent, Ireland) are being lauded. I’ve even seen some guff written about how Welsh brilliance is all down to improved fitness and a new running technique which apparently involves looking straight ahead, pumping your arms and flexing your ankles (as opposed to looking at your feet, waving your arms about like a maniac and trying to run straight-legged, which is obviously where I’ve been going wrong all these years).

All that’s required of the national rugby press is objective reporting and rational criticism. From what we’ve seen so far this World Cup, even when they can be arsed to comment on the rugby rather than on extraneous tittle-tattle, this is obviously too much to ask.


Nursedude said...

There might be something to the Welsh Fitness training. They seem to be less banged compared to NZ, Australia, RSA and England.

Gareth said...

I suspect that the Welsh fitness thing has less to do with their fitness in comparison to other nations, and more to do with how the new levels they have attained allow them to play, and sustain, the full court game they want to play.

Also there is a certain psychological benefit from knowing you are at the apex of your fitness and can draw deep from the well if needed.

That said I still hope O'Brien, Ferris and Heaslip smash them on Sat!