Number cruncher calculates rugby kickers’ skill — it’s all in the angle

2013-10-17 00:00

THE success rate of the kicker of a rugby ball during a match can now be mathematically determined by a Pretoria actuary using the angle and distance of a kick.

“One day, while watching a rugby match, I started wondering where the commentators got their information from,” said Jurie Nel.

His findings have already been published in the South African Journal of Sport, Physical Science and Recreation.

“I started collecting the data and realised that there were many factors that play a role when it comes to the success rate of a kicker. The distance of the kick, the position above sea level of the field and the pressure of the player,” he said.

Nel analysed more than 2 000 kicks to determine which factors mainly influenced a kicker’s chance to land the ball between the poles.

The distance of the kick, as well as its angle, are two factors that play the biggest role in a kicker’s level of success.

Nel has also worked out a method to determine the level of difficulty of each kick on a scale of one out of 10.

A table of Currie Cup and international players on his website www.goalkick shows the players with the highest rate of successful kicks.

Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn tops the list of international players, with a success rate of 81,4%.

The average difficulty rate of Steyn’s kicks is 5,3 out of 10.

The Griquas player Gouws Prinsloo heads the Currie Cup series. His difficulty rate is 3,3 out of 10.

“We want to provide people with the way in which the information has been utilised.

“It is easy to think a kicker is good because he succeeds with every kick in front of the poles. But a kicker who succeeds with kicks from a sharper angle is certainly the better kicker.”

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