Odd theoretical question...

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by Dave Davies, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Bench Player

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    OK. Before a game, the commentators often say things like, "With so-and-so playing at 10, they have a real advantage at that position." I certainly understand what they mean, so my question is this:

    You are in charge of a team, and you can see each player's stats, like in a video game. You can also see the other team to compare against.

    Let's say all the players on your side are a 90, and all the players on the other team are 90's. But you have the ability to raise one position on your team to 100, while lowering the opposite player to 80. It has to be the same position.

    What position do you adjust? It seems like the obvious answer would be 9 or 10, but maybe there's a better choice? The fullback? The 8? One of the wings? Which positional mismatch would give you the biggest overall advantage?
     
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  3. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

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    I guess most people will indeed tell you 10 or 9. I am pretty sure they would be wrong and if i were against them, the alternative below would beat them 95% of the times.

    Pick prop for both as in opposing props in a scrum. If you have to pick the exact same position for both, that would be fine too. You would have 100 vs 90 and 90 vs 80 on both sides of the first row.
    You'd get a penalty at every single scrum. The other team's morale would collapse and the pressure would be immense. Every single mistake they make, dropping the ball, a forward pass, etc, would mean a scrum which would result in a penalty which means either a get out of jail card defensively or 3 points. Every mistake YOU make would also mean a penalty for you, too.
    Repeat a few times and the yellow cards start flowing. By the time you reach no contest scrums, the advantage is already enormous.
     
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  4. Every Time Ref

    Every Time Ref First XV

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    That’s a well thought out answer, is question whether that difference of 10 would lead to a penalty every time, there’s a fair amount of arbitrariness to scrum penalties?
     
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  5. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

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    Fair enough.

    To be honest, i was thinking of the Lions 2/3 seasons ago. They had a monster first row and just did that to us (and others). Very little we could do. You could have given us the best backs in the history of the sport, wouldn't have made a difference.
     
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  6. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Bench Player

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    Still, I hafta wonder... the 9 probably touches the ball more than anyone else, right? So, if you have a mathematical advantage, you’d want to go to it as many times as possible, right? There are only so many scrums in a game, but a 9 is involved dozens and dozens of times, right? Just thinking out loud... :)
     
  7. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

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    I wouldn't suggest you look at it that way. It's a factor, certainly, but you are overlooking the impact the player has when he has the ball. What does he do with it. How does he transform the balls that go through his hand into opportunities to put points on the board.
    Think about it quality vs quantity.
    As a coach, i wouldnt mind to, defensively, give away possession to the opposition if i knew they couldn't hurt me from that position. This is, or could be, a bit the same.

    I want to hurt you as much as i can when i have the ball, and minimize the damage when i am on defense. Scrumhalves, as in their general role of getting the ball from fixed and dynamic formations, necessarily need a mistake from the opposition to force a penalty (offside, high tackle, etc). Props, do not. They can force penalties unaided and, virtually, singlehandedly.

    The "weird" thing about scrums is that, even if you do everything "right", you can get a penalty against you. If i face a stronger/bigger/more technical prop, and he pushes me 2 metres back, odds are every ref will call a penalty.
     
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  8. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

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    Surely you have to get the advantage up front, before considering the upgrades in the backs. You will also hear commentators and pundits say that the battle has to be won up front.

    There is no point in boosting your 10, if your forwards can't create more front foot ball, and have your team get gains over the advantage line. Plus that Scrum penalties, comes from your props dominating your opponents at the scrums.

    so surely you need to boost your loosehead and tighthead props.
     
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  9. Umaga's Witness

    Umaga's Witness First XV

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    Tight head vs their loose head . Does that count?
     
  10. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Bench Player

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    I see where you're going with this, but in my little imagination, it'd be same number... I see how that changes the options, now that you mention it! :)
     
  11. The Alpha Bro

    The Alpha Bro Fat Boi

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    Im thinking 7 in two identical teams. I think you'll do more damage with a better breakdown than scrum over 80mins.
     
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  12. Old Hooker

    Old Hooker First XV

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    Obvs the game revolves around the front row :)

    But you have a good point. The SH sets the whole tempo. ESPN stats show Youngs passed 58 times on Sun and ran 4 times - oddly they don’t show how often he kicked. That is a lot of opportunity to influence the shape of the game. England with Youngs on a good day is an entirely different proposition to Eng with Youngs at his indecisive worst.

    Its not quite mano a mano in the same way the front row is. But if your 100 is Faf you could maybe think of your 80 as Laidlaw (or Youngs on a bad day) and then ask yourself what impact they would each have had on the other’s side.
     
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  13. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

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    ... said Eddie Jones before the RWC Final
     
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  14. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

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    I see where you are coming from, but the thing is, as a coach if i know the opposition's 7 is better than my 7, there are things i can do to compensate for that. I can tell ball carriers to take fewer chances and not to overextend, i can tell people "in the middle" to interfere with #7 and to slow him down, i can tell other players to cover for our #7. I can tell my first carrier to engage #7 directly make him tackle and minimize the chance of him being at the turnover. Again, as a coach, i have options to manage that risk.

    You cannot do that in a scrum. If your opponent has a better front row, there is nowhere to run. My weak player has to face the opponents strong player in a scenario where others' ability to help is limited.
    Prop vs prop is as isolated as you can get in terms of planning a 1 on 1 event (pre-game). As a coach, if you get a chance to put your best player against your opposition's worst, you take it. 10 times out of 10.
     
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  15. Lourens

    Lourens Bench Player

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    Oooohhhh that hurt......low blow, yellow card!
     
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