Rugby World Cup Final 2019 Network Visualisation



Trying to get this out before kick-off and failing (just).

This is the figure where I have updated the team with the change (England) because it affects the diagram. Willie Heinz, who has been replaced due to injury, linked England to Gloucester, while they are linked to South Africa by Franco Mostert. Therefore, there are now fewer links between the two teams.

The addition of Ben Spencer to the England team to replace Willie Heinz means that the club team with the most players in the final are Saracens with 10 (9 for England, 1 for South Africa).

They are followed by Stormers with 9 (all for South Africa) and Bulls, Bath and Leicester Tigers (Bulls all South Africa, Leicester all England, the Bath players are from both).

Of the club teams, Sale Sharks are closest to the centre.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Semifinal Network Visualisation

(With some spoilers of the results of the semifinal matches themselves)

Network visualisation of the Rugby Union semifinal teams

England are now the team closest to the centre, with Harlequins the club team closest to the centre. New Zealand are the team floating out on their own, and given both theirs and Ireland’s relative under-performance, it does suggest that rugby union is becoming more like football, ever more inter-linked, and that inter-linking is vital for performance.

The club teams with the most representatives are Crusaders, Scarlets and Saracens (11), followed by the Stormers with 9 and the Ospreys with 8.

All four teams remain separate communities.

No update on the all players diagrams but that should be coming soon. There will be a slight delay for RL reasons, but hopefully the quarter, semi and final versions of that should be up before the end of November.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarterfinals Network Visualisation



Notably, all the teams with players unattached went out in the first round, which suggests my theory that the teams that have to rely on players with no club team are weaker is correct.

Leinster are now the club team with the most with 13 (all the players who player for Jaguares, Welwitschias, Benetton and Glasgow Warriors played for eliminated teams), followed by Munster with 12 and then Crusaders, Saracens and Scarlets with 11. Yes, I find the lumping of Crusaders and Saracens hilarious.

All 8 remaining teams are separate communities, and the teams are held less tightly together. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga were providing a lot of the connections that held the others in place.

Japan are the national team nearest to the centre, and NTT Communications Shining Arcs are the club team closest.

I’ve not updated the total players diagram yet, because I am aware that some replacements have not yet been updated on the Wikipedia page I am using as my information source (noticeably Rob Herring for Sean Cronin before I made the update) so there’s a good chance it’s slightly out of date. I will update the total players once the semifinals are sorted out, in the hope that all updates will have been made by then.

End of the 4th Round of Group Games Update to the World Cup Network Visualisation

The changes up to the end of the fourth round (again, as accurate as Wikipedia can make them):

Italy – Giosuè Zilocchi and Danilo Fischetti for Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni.

Argentina – Gonzalo Bertranou replaced Tomás Cubelli.

After fourth round of group games, the diagram looks like this:



Jaguares still have the most players with 26, followed by Welwitschias (20) and then Glasgow and Saracens (15). Two Benetton players have been replace, and both replacements play for Zebre.

The closest teams to the centre are either Samoa or Scotland and either London Irish or Pau. In both cases, I can’t tell.

In the community view, France and Fiji have become one community:


I’m sharing the non-labelled one as well, because I think it’s just so pretty. rNaC5F.png

Looking at the total players named:


Jaguares have the most (27), followed by Welwitschias (20) and Glasgow warriors and Benetton (16).

Samoa and Pau are the team closest to the centre.

From original teams being named to start, Canada and France have added the most (4), then Italy, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Tonga with 2 then Argentina, Fiji, Ireland, New Zealand, the United States and Wales have all added one.

In the community view, the teams are back to being 20 separate communities.

Speaking French is bad for your health – a network diagram update after the 3rd round of group games at the 2019 Rugby World Cup Edit


The changes are:

Ireland: Jordi Murphy replaced Jack Conan.

Ireland are literally doing it to themselves, as Conan was injured in training.

Canada: Guiseppe du Toit and Theo Sauder replaced Nick Blevins and Ben LeSage.

This change occurred between games 2 and 3 but was only updated on Wikipedia today (6th October). No, I am not sure why they’ve swapped a centre for a fullback.

Kainoa Lloyd replaced Taylor Paris.

South Africa: Damian Willemse replaced Jesse Kriel, who was injured in the first match. This was what I was meaning when I said I thought teams were waiting to see how bad injuries were before sending players home. This was a swap of a fly half for a centre.

United States: Chance Wenglewski for David Ainu’u. Again, this happened earlier but the Wikipedia article was only just updated.

France: Christopher Tolofua for Peato Mauvaka, and Vincent Rattez for Thomas Ramos – The latter change was a wing for a fullback.

The removal of Canada’s link to Castres and Ireland’s shift up and to the left may explain the changes in which teams lie closest to the centre. Samoa and Scotland are the national teams closest to the centre, and London Irish and Pau are the club teams closest to the centre. I can’t tell which is closer between either pair.


All the teams are in different communities.

If we look at all players named at any point up to the end of the 3rd round of group games, it now looks like this:


France and Canada have used the most players, 35, with Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Tonga next with 33. Apparently, playing rugby for a country that speaks French is bad for your health.

Labelled, it looks like this r8W1nb.png

Either Samoa or Fiji are the national team closest to the centre, it’s too close to tell. The club team closest to the centre are Pau.

Looking at the community view, France and Fiji now one community for reasons I do not understand.


Rugby World Cup 2019 Network Visualisation Up To The End Of The First Round

The following players were replaced after the first round of games.

Samoa: Alamanda Motuga for Afa Amosa

Scotland: Magnus Bradbury and Henry Pyrgos for Hamish Watson and Ali Price

South Africa: Thomas du Toit for Trevor Nyakane

France: Pierre-Louis Barassi and Cedate Gomes Sa for Wesley Fofana and Demba Bamba

Tonga: Latiume Fosita and Fetuli Paea for Kurt Morath and Nafi Tuitavake

Wales: Bradley Davies for Cory Hill

These changes make the figure look like this:



There is one less unattached player, Nafi Tuitavake has no club listed while Fetuli Paea plays for Tasman Mako in the New Zealand Mitre 10 Cup. The unattached players left are Canada and the US (5), Samoa (4), Fiji (3), Georgia (2) and Italy (1).

As nothing has changed with Argentina, Jaguares have the most representatives with 26, followed by Welwitschias (20) and Benetton (16). With regard to Benetton, they already had 16 and I made a mistake in the original calculation. Benetton are alone on 16 because Glasgow lost a player when Ali Price had to withdraw.

Samoa remain closest to the centre and London Irish are still the club team closest.

Looking at the total numbers of all players named in the squads up to the end of the first round, that diagram now looks like this.


The following teams have named replacements since the original squads were announced: Samoa, Scotland and France (2), NZ, Canada, Fiji, South Africa and Wales (1). Like the 2015 World Cup, Samoa and one of the teams in the group with them have added the most players (so far). Not sure if France have just been unlucky.

In this diagram, Samoa are the closest to the centre (just, it’s very close with Fiji) and London Irish are the club team closest to the centre.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Network Visualisation

(This is late because I spent most of the build-up to the World Cup on holiday. I would recommend a visit to Andalusia to anyone and everyone.)

For the Rugby World Cup, you’re going to get more images than usual in this kind of post. This is because the governing body, World Rugby, demand that the squads are finalised before the final warm up match (no, I have no idea why). In a sport like rugby, it’s very easy for people to get injured in a match, so there are often changes between the squad being finalised and the start of the tournament.

Below is the original squads, in red and white in honour of Japan.


The labelled version is here:


As you can see, Samoa are the team closest to the centre, with London Irish being the club team closest. Jaguares are the club with the most representatives (26), followed by Welwitschias (20) and Glasgow Warriors (16).

Because of the regional way rugby union works in several countries (New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Wales) pick all their players from very few teams (4 for Ireland, 5 for New Zealand). Ireland are the team floating on their own. In the men’s football equivalent of this diagram, being so isolated is a predictor of poor performance but I don’t think this will be in the rugby (this was written before Japan Vs Ireland, possibly it is more prophetic than I thought.)

The number of unattached players is higher than football. USA and Canada have the most with 5, but several other teams also have unattached players (Samoa, Fiji, Georgia, Italy and Tonga).

All 20 teams are their own communities.

However, as I said players get injured and several teams had to replace players before the start of the tournament. The diagram on the first day of the World Cup (20th September), looked like this.


The main difference is that Namibia have moved further in because they have a player (Janco Venter) who plays for Jersey Reds, and Lee Roy Atalifo, who was a replacement for Fiji also plays for them.

This means that Fiji are now the team closest to the centre, while London Irish are still the club team closest to the centre. The clubs with the most players hasn’t changed.

Rugby union also does something interesting with regard to replacing injured players. In international football tournaments, teams may only replace injured players until their first game. In the rugby union world cup, teams may replace injured players throughout. I think this is because players are more likely to get injured in rugby and because there are certain positions where you need a specialist player.

These positions tend to be the front row (Hooker and Props). If a team cannot field a recognised hooker and props, scrums become uncontested for safety reasons. Backs are more interchangeable and, theoretically you can play a non-scrum half at Scrum Half, it just might not end well. (I mock with love, and no one can say that Mauro Bergamasco didn’t give it his all, because he is lovely beyond words).

With the changes that have come after the first round and will undoubtedly come after the second round, I will make more diagrams. I am also very tempted to find a way of making an animation of the changes and then do the same for a diagram of all the players who have been named in the squads. For the time being, below are all of the plays that have been named in any of the squads from the naming of the squads to the start of the tournament.


At the 2015 World Cup, Wales and Samoa went through the most players and I suggested that reflected something about the way the two teams played. This time, New Zealand, Canada, Samoa and Fiji have already had to add players, 1 each.

More soon.

Peter Stringer

Since time’s arrow insists on moving forward, Peter Stringer has retired. I am somewhat behind the other write ups, but what I lack in timeliness, I make up for with love.

To an extent, my memories of rugby union are tied up with Peter Stringer. I have strangely vivid memories of Scotland winning the Grand Slam in 1990, reinforced by my mother’s Corries videos, but the first memory that is definitely mine and not just disjointed plays, is Peter Stringer’s tap tackle on Dan Luger. I think it sums his career up quite well.

It was borderline impossible, required determination and heart (and a certain bodily recklessness) and was valuable beyond measure.

How else can you describe someone who at 1.7 m and 73 kg tries to tackle All Blacks.

While opinion is mixed as to who was the best scrum half between the years 2000 and 2010, Stringer is probably not going to be on anyone’s list. Which is a shame, because he did the simple things well. I do have a fondness for excellence of execution.

His style also worked for the team he was in. You can play like New Zealand if you’ve got players like New Zealand (I’d have used France as the example, but France are having trouble playing like France at the moment).

And because he worked so well in that team, he could he set up Jamie Heaslip’s match-winning try in the 2009 Six Nations game against Scotland. That performance won Stringer the Man of the Match award and meant that Ireland could go to Cardiff for their match against Wales with a chance of winning not just the title but the Grand Slam as well. In that final match against Wales, it was Stringer’s pass to O’Gara that led to the drop goal that won Ireland their first grand slam in 61 years.

The Stringer to O’Gara connection was also vital to Munster’s successes, such as finally winning the Heineken Cup. And this would be him scoring the winning try. This was especially sweet as he was the person Neil Back stole the ball from to cost Munster the title in 2002. The try also shows what I liked about the way he played – there was sneak and guile, looking for spaces instead of running into contact, more than that, actually finding the space, and using it.

I think Stringer is very much the definition of tiny and awesome and has been (and always will be) my favourite rugby players because of that.

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