Rugby League World Cup Final Network Data Visualisation

First, the semifinal highlights.

The BBC haven’t bothered to put their “funny” one up yet, so instead, have the 5 minute highlights of Fiji vs Australia, of which the important details are Fiji were in the lead and they did score a try this time. That Australia won is a completely unimportant detail.

In much the same way, of the Tonga vs England match, the 70 minutes that England were way ahead are unimportant when you consider Tonga’s glorious near-comeback, which involved 3 tries in 10 minutes. The third try in particular was a thing of beauty. If only they didn’t keep giving other teams a head start!

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Final Network Data Visualisation

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Going into the final, the team closest to the centre are Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. The other teams which would have had World Cup winners no matter who won are St George Illawara and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

Interestingly, all of Canberra and South Sydney Rabbitohs representatives are playing for England, Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead for Canberra and Sam and Tom Burgess for the Bunnies.

The team with the most players in the final are Melbourne Storm, with 7, all for Australia, with their two Fijians having gone out in the semifinals. Next are Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Warrington and St Helens with 4 players each. The Sharks lost 1 Tongan in the semis, Warrington 1 Fijian, while Saints have the same number in the final as they had in the semis.

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The community view makes little sense, as it tends not to when down to only two teams. Most of the English and Australian players are the same colour as England or Australia, the players that play for teams that join the two countries are coloured by club but for some unknown reason so are Leeds, Canberra, Wests Tigers and Penrith, all of whose players play in one country. If that was because there’s a large number of them, you’d think Melbourne Storm would be coloured a different colour too, because they’re a (relatively) large community. One day I will understand how the community concept works in Gephi!

Rugby League World Cup 2017 Final Thoughts

(This was written when the original England team for the finals was announced, after Hodgson’s injury, but before O’Loughlin was announced as being unavailable. I still stand by most of it, even Jonny Lomax can only add so much flair on his own. The original team was here.)

You remember how I promised I wouldn’t complain about Wayne Bennett’s squad pick because he had at least picked Walmsley and Percival? Some of his recent choices are making that hard to stick to. Even at the time, his decision not to take more than two hookers was, interesting, brave and other insults from Sir Humphrey Appleby. Now that Josh Hodgson is injured, it looks particularly foolish. I know Roby can do 80 minutes, but I am a Saints fan so I am equally convinced that Roby can play 80 minutes followed by walking on water and feeding the five thousand.

Given the lack of hooking back up, the Bennett hasn’t picked a single back on the sub’s bench is … worrying.

To an extent, I can see Bennett’s plan. There are two kinds of coaches, ones who think that their formation of choice is *the* one and will squeeze their players into it, and then ones that look at the players they have at their disposal and try to get them to play in whatever formation suits their skills the best. Bennett is definitely of the second type. I can see why he’s going with “bringing back the biff” because, man for man, the England forward line *is* better than the Australian one. It’s just that he’s sacrificed the scoring power of one winger (Ryan Hall who is getting zero service because the centre inside him is John Bateman who is actually a second row) and any chance of explosive flair for this plan.

I want to believe that England will win. I know everyone keeps saying we should back our boys and I would love to. It’s just, as a whole, and Watkins and McGillvary being honorary exceptions, there’s a distinct lack of creative flair in this squad as a whole, never mind the 17 men chosen for the final.

This is not a classic Australian team. For most positions, man for man, they’re not that much better than England. The problem is that in those few positions where they are better, they are significantly better, and all of those positions are the creative roles. After umpteen years in the NRL I don’t think the three musketeers are going to be put off by a few hard tackles, no matter that they’re creaky with age and short a musketeer.

The other reason I don’t want to believe is that I’ve been here before. I was there for that loss to New Zealand, that horrible moment when Shaun Johnson scored and then converted and Pompeii by Bastille blared out of the loudspeakers, at just the wrong moment for a song encouraging me to be an optimist about anything. If hoping leads to that again, I don’t want it.