The Origin period is a tough time for tipsters. The systems that we’ve been using for the last eleven weeks start to break down over the next six weeks, as selections play havoc with overall team quality and on field cohesion.
Word to the wise is that the Elo rating systems (Archimedes and Eratosthenes) and Poseidon don’t account for these changes. The Elo ratings see an amorphous mass known as “South Sydney” or “Brisbane” whose only inputs are the final score or, in Poseidon’s case, the number of tries scored and goals kicked. By their design, the team ratings will adjust after the fact, not before.
If you have a keen eye, you might have noticed a change of advertising on the blog in the last week or two. I had an idea last year that there’s lots of rugby league logos around that go by the wayside and that some might look good on a cap or a t-shirt. I found a print on demand service and taught myself to trace in Illustrator and produced a couple dozen designs from old photos and crappy scans.
I launched pythagord.com (Pythago RD or “pi-thag-ord”) earlier this year and it was extremely well received on Twitter and generated a few sales off the bat. I then sent emails to a dozen clubs to see if anyone was interested in being partners, with me doing all the work and paying a cut to clubs to avoid any potential intellectual property disputes, as well as trying to generate some revenue for them. With any luck, I could ride their coattails and their fans would help turn a profit at some point. I got a nibble from Wests and a very polite no from Glebe (which was fine, as they were pretty much doing the same thing) but otherwise it was met with silence.
It took me a while to realise I wasn’t getting anything back. It took me longer to work out what to do about it and then longer still to actually do anything. I held off on promoting the site in the meantime. I ended up reformatting most of the products to remove references to the original club – except the BRL and QComp club stuff, which should exist anyway and it’s a crime that it didn’t so now it does – but you can find what you’re looking for using the team nickname.
The aim now is to make some return on my investment. In the absence of reliable cooperation from the better known clubs and trying to avoid a minefield of trademark and copyright law, I’d like to expand the offering in these ways. If you:
- Know of any rugby league club, whether they be juniors in search of some revenue or seniors with a suitably interesting logo or name, who would like a cost effective, low risk merchandising solution with no minimum orders or stock keeping;
- Are a budding or accomplished graphic designer and have some rugby league designs that might look good on a piece of clothing and want to see some royalties;
- Produce a podcast or blog and want to sell some t-shirts to sympathetic friends or families to raise some beer money (Sports BFs is already on board)
Hit me up.
If you bought something under the impression that a cut would be going to the club, my apologies but they don’t appear to be interested in your money. I gave it to Men of League instead (and matched it with my own money), so if nothing else, some good came out of this:
Also some cool rugby league stuff happened in Barcelona and Blackpool on the weekend but you should already be across that. The vista of rugby league’s future continue to expand despite itself.
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Here are the tips for this weekend’s action:
National Rugby League
Intrust Super Cup
Magic Round was fun. Do rugby league teams remember fun? I’m not sure all of them do. The ones that attended Magic Round definitely couldn’t avoid it. But don’t take my word for it, let’s hear what the fans had to say:
On the experience
It’s Magic Round, baby! I am very excited to be attending seven out of the eight games (please just make it eight games in three days next year, preferably aligning with the Labour Day weekend) and we found out this week on NRL.com that Magic Round is staying in Queensland for at least the next two years. Despite protestations for the kind of people who have to be quoted in AlTeRnAtiNg CaPs, this is a good thing.
The idea is for the NRL to sell the event to the highest bidder moving forward, as a diverse revenue stream, but they need to establish the concept in Australia first. Holding it in Brisbane does this because it is an established rugby league market and placates the Queensland government somewhat for not getting the hosting rights to the NRL grand final at any point before the end of time. Attendances are not that important to the overall success of the event because the state government is paying the NRL and the NRL in turn pays the teams for giving up their home games. Nonetheless, 125,000 people are expected, which is roughly 20% more than the eight “host” clubs would normally draw in aggregate.
It’s not being held in Sydney for a couple of obvious reasons:
- Why would the Queensland government pay to host an event in Sydney?
- Sydney already gets around 100+ NRL games and these are poorly attended compared to non-Sydney matches.
- Seriously, shut the fuck up. Sometimes things happen outside of Sydney.
On to the tipping, given that this weekend’s games are being played at one venue, I’ve taken the unprecedented step of manually removing home ground advantage from the tipping systems (even for the Broncos, who technically have an away fixture). The net result is that the team on the left would normally be handed an advantage of 40 to 60 Elo rating points, which translates to about 4% winning percentage for Archimedes and about 6% for Eratosthenes. I made some smaller modifications for Poseidon but did not completely remove the home ground advantage because it would have been too difficult to do for a one-off. xPPG remains unaffected.
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By the way, it’s not just your imagination. If you, like me, have been wondering whether rugby league is somewhat lopsided so far this year, I don’t think you’re wrong. In the NRL, there are by some metrics only six teams above average and really only two of those – Souths and Easts – are excelling. I look forward to them not playing a grand final because rugby league is too chaotic to allow that to happen.
Also, Penrith are looking decidedly unhealthy. They are spoon favourites and down on more than a few metrics. That’s quite surprising to see the incumbent NSW halves pairing lead around a team that could be the worst in a league that also contains the Bulldogs, Knights, Broncos and Titans.
The Sunshine Coast Falcons dismantled the Souths Logan Magpies 72-4 to continue their unbeaten run. While the scoreline itself was close but not an actual record, this has promoted the Falcons’ form rating to 1663, which is extremely high. For comparison, think North Queensland Cowboys at the end of the 2015 regular season, heading to their first premiership. The 2016 Dolphins, the 2015-16 Blackhawks and the 2013 Pride hit similar marks but it has been largely unprecedented in the fifteen years prior of the Queensland Cup. I suppose this speaks to a greater disparity in talent across the league that wasn’t present in earlier years, even though those early years often resulted in teams folding after winless seasons, which is something of a paradox that I don’t have a resolution for.
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The big news of the last couple of days is that Kodi Nikorima is set to leave the Broncos and join the Warriors. Those of us who are Broncos fans are pretty happy about it, although I’d be happier if we were getting one of the Warriors’ three halves in return and not blooding an eighteen year old in his place. A bit of experience combined with some competence (*ahem*Blake Green) wouldn’t go astray at the moment.
If you’re wondering what Nikorima’s regular season PPG/all season WARG slashline looks like:
- 2015: 17 games, PPG .064, WARG -0.1
- 2016: 16 games, PPG .069, WARG 0.0
- 2017: 16 games, PPG .084, WARG +0.1
- 2018: 23 games, PPG .085, WARG +0.2
- 2019: 7 games, PPG .087
Those numbers suggest that he’s fine at what he does, and indeed improving, but he won’t be challenging for a place in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t have thought he was even rep material based on his slashline but he is New Zealand’s starting halfback, a position I think he will struggle to hold with the rise of Chanel Harris-Tavita.
That said, he was on a relatively low salary so represented value for money for Brisbane. He would struggle to find a contract under a points-based cap system. Whether he brings that value to Auckland at twice the price for the next three years remains to be seen.
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In what seems like fairly tame news compared to recent months, Phil Gould has been ousted from the Panthers. I don’t particularly care for Gould but that’s because he’s a massive gronk and cranky old man in the commentary box.
I don’t have any strong opinions about his ability as a club executive, largely because I wasn’t paying much attention to rugby league for most of his tenure. Plenty have pointed out Penrith’s successes in reforming their pathways (see last year’s U18 national championship and NRL State Championship wins) while others claim the club had a losing record under his command, along with some frankly bizarre personnel decisions (see punting the coach a few weeks out from the 2018 finals to keep a somewhat above-average halfback happy).
I will point to the club’s class graph, because that’s the kind of thing that can be used for, and from 2012 onwards, we see an unmistakable and steady uptick in performance. At one point, it looked like the pieces were in place for a premiership.
It’ll be interesting to see where Penrith go from here. My hope is that the resolution of the blatant conflict of interest in having a club executive commentate from a national platform will help slightly improve the coverage of the game (remember the 90 second infomercial for Oak at half time of a Panthers game that was presented as part of the Channel 9 broadcast?). I don’t mind bias in commentators within limits but that’s taking the piss.
In other news, you might notice the tip sheet format has changed. This is an attempt to make it a bit clearer and faster to put together. I think I’ve been successful but let me know if you believe otherwise.
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