Today I stumbled across infojocks, a graphic studio specializing in sports infographics and data visualization. This infographic is a complete box score of the 2013 NFL Super Bowl. The author discusses the graphic on visual.ly. This graphic is both informative and intuitive because it leverages a familiar metaphor (the clock) to communicate a variety of simple statistics.
In the author’s own words:
“In working on these football game infographics, I limited myself to working with the most basic of sports stats: the box score. At its simplest, football is a game of possession. The most important variables are how far a team moves the ball (yardage) and how long it takes to do it (drive). In this graphic, each piece of pie is a single possession. Time moves around the circle, like a game clock, and yards are represented by the radius.”
Although this graphic pertains to football, the artist’s words resonate with me when considering rugby 7s. Rugby 7s is also a game of possession where time is perhaps more of a factor because it’s so brief. Unlike football, variables such as yards gained and pass completions are of limited utility when considering possession effectiveness. A quick score after a turnover inside the oppositions 22 does not show up in any of the standard measures, and high pass completions often indicate an inability to score. Yardage gained is no more important than the distance a basketball player dribbles during a game.
Therefore, I believe that the single possession should be the fundamental unit of analysis when considering rugby 7s — just as it is in basketball and other transition sports.
Much more on this later. For now, please enjoy this graphic. Consider whether the ideas and assumptions bundled in it are appropriate for rugby 7s.