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Title favourites? How the All Blacks have a 53 percent chance of winning the World Cup

NZ Herald

From commentators, sports betting sites, to World Cup fortune-telling animals, there are plenty of places fans can turn to when predicting the winner of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

However, few turn to science. And according to expert analytics led by Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Policy Research Niven Winchester, the All Blacks have a 53.6 per cent chance of winning the Webb Ellis Cup.

Statistical models developed by Winchester for analytics website Rugby Vision, build rating systems for international teams to estimate the expected result for each game.

In the current Rugby Vision Global Rankings, New Zealand are at the top of the table even though Wales are number one in the official World Rugby rankings.

The All Blacks lead the Rugby Vision world rankings, even though they are officially ranked second on the World Rugby system. (Photo / Rugby Vision)

The All Blacks lead in ranking points based on statistics from winning when they are expected to lose, winning by more points than expected and loses by fewer points than expected.

Additionally, England and South Africa are ranked higher by Rugby Vision than World Rugby.

In the Rugby Vision rankings, unlike in the official ratings, differences between rating points for any two teams equal the predict score margin for a game played at a neutral venue.

The All Blacks lead in ranking points based on statistics from winning when they are expected to lose, winning by more points than expected and loses by fewer points than expected.

Additionally, England and South Africa are ranked higher by Rugby Vision than World Rugby.

In the Rugby Vision rankings, unlike in the official ratings, differences between rating points for any two teams equal the predict score margin for a game played at a neutral venue.

If the strongest team according to Rugby Vision’s rankings always won, is shows how the knockout stages of the World Cup would play out.

However, as Japan’s shock victory over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup and New Zealand’s early exit from the 2007 tournament illustrate, upsets do happen.

The ratings estimate that the All Blacks would beat England by 6.81 points on average, but in some of those 100 games New Zealand would win by more or fewer than 7 points, England would win some games, and a small number of games would be drawn.

It turns out that, according to the Rugby Vision’s model, the All Blacks would win 68 of the 100 games, England would win 29, and three games would be drawn.

Continue reading below…

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Simulating the Rugby World Cup

To determine the probability of each team advancing to various stages of the Rugby World Cup, Rugby Vision simulated the tournament 10,000 times.

For each game in each simulation, a different value is used to account for the variation in expected score margin.

On average, higher-ranked teams have a greater chance of progressing to the various knock out stages.

According to Rugby Vision, New Zealand are clear favourites with a 68.1 per cent chance of qualifying for the final and a 53.6 per cent chance of winning the competition.

Despite playing in arguably the toughest pool, England are second-favourites, with a 15.5 per cent probability of winning the tournament, followed by South Africa with a 12.9 per cent chance.

The estimates also reveal that while it is highly likely that New Zealand and South Africa will qualify for the knock-out stages in Pool B, other pools are more competitive.

In Pool A, Japan has a 26.7 per cent chance of qualifying for quarterfinals, at the expense of Ireland or Scotland; there should be a tight competition between France and Argentina for the second quarterfinal spot in Pool C; and there is a 10.4 per cent chance that Fiji will cause an early exit for either Wales or Australia in Pool D.

The All Blacks will play South Africa, Canada, Namibia and Italy in pool matches starting on September 21, before heading into the knockout rounds.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished again with permission.

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Title favourites? How the All Blacks have a 53 percent chance of winning the World Cup