To begin with, it’s quite a familiar look at the top with Methodist College sitting in first place followed by RBAI, Wallace HS and Campbell College respectively. Wallace’s position (3rd) might seem higher than expected given their win record, but Campbell (4th) have played a much weaker average opponent (0.378).
The current early contenders for ‘darkhorse’ are found in the top ten among some of the more established big-hitters. Sullivan Upper (5th) and Down HS (6th) have had great starts to the season often narrowly missing out on beating some stronger sides by a few points. The unbeaten side of Rainey ES (10th) completes the top-ten, although their inferior opponent average currently holds them back from rising any higher.
Moving further down to mid-table, there is sure to be disappointment for Ballymena Academy (11th) and Ballyclare HS (16th), the former having won as recently as 2010 and the later featuring as a runner-up only last season. Even further down, it’s similar despair for Regent House (22nd) and Coleraine AI (28th) whose recent history is much better than current form.
This week’s featured games (Sat 13th Oct):
Ballyclare HS v Limavady GS: Two strong teams in previous seasons; a win for either one on Saturday would be huge for boosting their form.
Ballymena Academy v BRA: The Antrim side are another team in need of a boost; will they test BRA who are themselves so far unconvincing?
Grosvenor GS v Sullivan Upper: Sullivan’s great start puts pressure on themselves – can they keep up the good form?
Portadown College v RS Armagh: It’s just a few miles up the road for the away side in this Armagh-county derby.
RBAI v Rainey ES: Both with 100% records so far, but that will change for one or both on Saturday.
|Rank||Team||Win %||Opponent Rating||Score||Form|
|7||Belfast Royal Academy||0.667||0.511||454||0.708|
|18||Foyle & L’Derry College||0.400||0.473||239||0.427|
For those of you who keep up-to-date with Ulster Schools’ 1stXV rugby on this site we have some important news: starting immediately this season, we have improved the formula that generates the rankings you see posted on The Front Row Union website each week.
To help understand these changes and the ranking system in general, we’ve provided a few questions and answers below that should help to make things clearer:
What is the point of the ranking system?
This system was mainly designed so that every one of the 32 teams involved with Ulster Schools’ 1stXV rugby could be ranked using the data available, without the need for every team to have played against every other.
How is the ranking calculated for each team?
The three biggest factors taken into account are each team’s win percentage (number of wins, draws, and losses), opponent rating (the strength of sides faced) and competitive rating (their progression within the various competitions), alongside penalties for inactivity which prevent less active schools being ranked higher than they deserve. The formula produces a score for each team using these factors which then allows us to rank them in order from 1 to 32.
Are points/tries for/against taken into account?
Presently, no, and probably not in the near future for two main reasons: firstly, with a lack of scoreboards at matches, fans (and indeed coaches/players) often argue over the exact score of each match, so they are difficult to confirm; secondly, the margin of victory/defeat often has to do with the opponent played, which is already taken into consideration in the calculation.
Hey, my team defeated that one! Shouldn’t we be above them?
Not necessarily: the ranking for each team is based on the season as a whole, not a head-to-head basis, so often teams can be ranked below those which they have beaten. Don’t worry though, if you’re truly better than they are it will show eventually!
What does the percentage score of each team actually represent?
The decimal score assigned to each team represents a calculated estimation of that team’s ability. To put it another way, if every team played every other in a full season, the score is what win percentage would expected of each team, given the data available. This is why team’s percentages change week-on-week even if they haven’t played; it is dependent on the performance of every other team.
So, has scoring changed in the new system?
Yes and no: the original scoring is retained but has been renamed to be understood as measure of form. However, each team now receives a second score per week as a measure of performance. This second rating is simply a number between 0 to approx. 1000; the higher the number the better the performance. This second scoring system, unlike the first, allows teams to be compared week-on-week and even season-on season as the same score in any two weeks represents the exact same level of performance.
Is opponent strength now calculated any differently?
The new formula has been updated to better reflect the opponent strength faced by each team. Originally, an average was taken across the season as a whole up to that point, whereas now the average is calculated using the strength of opponent dependant on how strong they were when they actually played the team in question. This leads to a more accurate representation of a team’s performance and stops the situation whereby a team could see their performance improved/downgraded without actually playing that week.
Have any other changes been made?
Penalties for inactivity are still included but now accumulate from week to week if a school does not take part. This will help to prevent schools sitting higher in the table for an extended period as sometimes happened with the original system.
How are these numbers used to rank the teams?
Teams are placed in order firstly by score then by competitive rating, form and finally, opponent strength. If there is still a tie at this point other factors such as head-to-head record, competitive match-ups and inactivity penalties may be taken into account, but it is unlikely that this would be needed, and this has so far proven to be the case.