Does the big screen at Allianz Stadium cause goal kickers to miss?

Twitter follower, David Olsen, posed a question to me:

Apparently, I do a reader mailbag now. Good for me.

My first thought was “How the hell am I going to do this?”, closely followed by “Can I be bothered?” The answers were “with less effort than I feared” and “yes, yes I can”.

The backstory is that between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Allianz Stadium installed some bigass screens at the ends of the field. The screens are apparently 277m2 , roughly 3% of the area of the football field they are showing. Look at this gargantuan monolith:

Embed from Getty Images

Being from Brisbane, I’ve never given Allianz much thought but I get the question. Watching myself on the big screen would probably put me off my kicking game. The fact that I’m a 30 year old that has never played rugby league would also be considered a disadvantage.

What I have to work with are the freely available stats on NRL.com and the wonderful rugbyleagueproject.org. The NRL provides individual player stats – specifically, goals (G), conversions (CN) and conversions missed (CM) – for the 2014 through 2017 seasons and RLP has game stats for every first grade game, including goals and goal attempts.

Based on that, I worked out the conversion rates for the Roosters’ kickers and their opposition through the 2014 and 2017 seasons, both at Allianz and across the season. I had to fudge the figures a little bit as RLP doesn’t distinguish between penalty goals and conversions while the NRL data doesn’t give penalty goal attempts. Most of the time, you take the two points if its a dead cert that you’ll make the kick whereas try conversions tend to be a lot less certain. I assumed that the penalty goal conversion rate was 95% and adjusted the figures accordingly.

Here are the results:

roosters kickers at allianz.PNG

oppo kickers at allianz.PNG

And there’s no real difference. Yes, the opposition kicker success rate at Allianz was much higher in 2014 than 2015 but I think that’s noise: only 60 attempts were made in 2014. A ten percent change is only six attempts. While the conversion rate is a little worse at Allianz than the season generally in other years, it’s not by enough to raise my eyebrow.

For the Roosters, Maloney obviously had no trouble adjusting from 2014 to 2015 and his successors generally kick better at home than away, which you’d expect and suggests the screen isn’t a factor (or they like watching themselves while they kick).

This is a pretty basic analysis and a bit rough given the small samples sizes. In an ideal world, we’d correct for kick position, weather and would have more accurate data for penalty goals versus conversions but I think it’s clear that the big screens don’t make a real difference for kicking.

The other, more important conclusion we can draw is that Latrell Mitchell should never be allowed near a kicking tee.