RUGBY ANALYTICS 101: Expected Points and Expected Points Added - Part 2
In my previous post the Expected Points framework was introduced. In January 2019, I made a post to my Instagram page (@vanguard403) which demonstrated how Expected Points (EP) and Expected Points Added (EPA) can be used to evaluate both team and individual performances.
The first video clip was taken from the France versus England match from the 2019 Six Nations Tournament. On the counterattack, Anthony Watson received a pass on the 39m line and carried for a total distance of 21 metres. Watson's carry also had an initial EP of -0.02 and ended with an EP of 1.22. Thus the increase in Expected Points or the Expected Points Added (EPA) for Watson's carry was 1.24.
In the second video clip, taken from the Ireland versus Scotland match from Round 4 of the same tournament, Garry Ringrose carries from the 78m line and carried for a total distance of 8 metres. Ringrose's carry had an initial EP of 1.91 ended with an EP of 3.15. Thus the EPA for Ringrose's carry was 1.24 as well. Please note how the EP values increase rapidly within the red zone as you move closer to the goal line.
We are all aware that back 3 players typically carry for the most metres, and we are also aware that many of those metres were gained in the open field in the absence of defenders - such as in counterattack. Meanwhile the forwards and inside backs are often left to make tough carries in tight spaces to try and create space for the outside backs - does the fact that they accumulate fewer metres over a game mean that their carries are less valuable?
The expected points framework adds context to ball carries because it takes into account where metres were gained and acknowledges that there are parts of the pitch where metres are more valuable than others. Thus even though Watson's carry was more than 2.5 times longer than Ringrose's carry, because they occurred in different parts of the pitch, they both ended up being equally valuable in terms of increasing their team's chances of scoring.
In future posts we will apply the Expected Points framework to player evaluation to see if we can gain any new insights that may not be evident while viewing traditional player statistics. How do you think your favourite player will fare?