Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why 'Rhonda from reception' is winning your NRL tipping comp

The lottery of NRL tipping.
Like me, you may have come away after the first two rounds of your tipping competition sitting on the bottom of the ladder, with only five correct selections over 16 games of football. A dismal performance, pathetic even, but how does this happen?

How does ‘Rhonda’ from reception or ‘Tim’ from the IT department come out on top despite having little to virtually no interest in the sport, when passionate and engaged sports fans who put hours of ‘research’ into their selections for the first week of the tipping comp fall to the bottom.
The old-fashioned statement of “couldn’t win a chook raffle” couldn’t apply more. That is, that despite how easy it seems to pick the winners, you get shafted by teams who you thought would be looking like receiving the finely-shaped piece of pine that your mum used to whack you on the ass after you called your sister a ‘so and so’ as a kid.
You see the tipsters, like Rhonda and Tim, will use a variety of subjective reasons to pick their teams. They won’t look at results, they won’t check to see who is out injured; heck they won’t even know who is playing. They will make their selections based purely on their thoughts of a team at the time. They’ll consider the colours of the teams playing and whether they resonate as their favourite coloured dress, they’ll decide that a dragon is far more capable of eating an eel, than an eel is of a eating a dragon. They’ll take their dad’s team, regardless of how their dad’s team is running, or who they are playing.
Their care-free attitude to the competition and vein interest in the sport is the reason they go so swell, because unwittingly and unbeknown to them, each week they are taking risks on certain teams to win. They will take the Titans to beat the Warriors in New Zealand, despite the Warriors having won 5 in a row and the Titans missing several key players. They make the picks that pupils of the great game aren’t able to make, because of the risk involved.
The committed and knowledgeable tipster, will pour through newspapers all week running their eyes over the endless print searching for that one little bit of information that will provide them with ‘the edge’. When they find it, they think they are armed with something their rival tipsters won’t have, inside information. They scour the footy shows leading into Friday, they sus out their rivals selections, they chat with colleagues to see if anyone saw the news story last night that let them know that Paul Gallen is out for the weekend after a visit to the judiciary, they will wait until the last minute on a Friday to put their tips in, in the hope they hear on the radio heading home that Matt Cooper has once again been ruled out with a calf strain.
In reality, it’s a 50/50 split decision. You’d be better off flipping a coin.
An analysis of the round one from the last five years of the NRL competition reveals some of the reasons to a poor start to a tipping comp.

·        16 out of 40 games were upsets (40%)

·        21 out of 40 games were won by teams that missed the finals the year before (52.5%)
You can see that a large proportion of games were upsets in round one. It can also be seen that form, from the previous season, means nothing, with over half the games won by teams who didn’t make the finals. Furthermore, quite often odds of round one teams’ predicts there will be a large score line with the favourite winning. Over the last five years, 52.5% of games were won by less than 10 points, showing close contests across round one each year.
So after a bad start to the year’s tipping comp, you might‘ve thought you could make it up in round two. Well, if this year’s round two games are anything to go by, you were kidding yourself. Four of the teams that lost in round one, won their games in round two. Once again, four of the teams that won in round two, finished in the bottom half of the table in 2014.
The reality is the NRL is one of the closest competitions in the world. There are more upsets in the NRL than any other competition around the world. That is what keeps the game so interesting to the fans, the fact that on any given day, any team could beat the other. So much like the tipsters that pick on colour, mascot or anything else, you should just flip a coin when putting your tips in for the first few rounds of the competition.
As 1986 Parramatta Eels premiership winner Tony Chalmers put it to me the other night, “Never have a bet on round one or two, they work themselves out after a few rounds, but round one and two are a nightmare to pick a winner”.
Too true Tony. After round three, teams begin to find form and the cream of the crop can be separated from those who will actually look like receiving that finely-shaped piece of pine they call the wooden-spoon.
Good luck in round three, tipsters.