Can an algorithm predict the outcome of the Rugby World Cup 2023?
Well, Dr Niven Winchester from the Auckland University of Technology has developed a statistical model called Rugby Vision, which uses past results and the location of matches to predict the outcomes of significant rugby games.
Dr. Winchester explained that the model operates on a simple principle. It considers past results and the location of the match as key inputs.
"At its core, it's actually quite simple in terms of the inputs that it uses, and that's past results and the location of the match," he explained.
"Home advantage usually matters as that's where the match is played."
However, one of the most striking revelations from the Rugby Vision algorithm is that we, as human beings, are overly reactive to recent results.
"We as human beings are too reactive to recent results, so it takes a very long-term perspective when looking at and evaluating teams' performances and coming up with a rating for those teams," explained Dr Winchester.
Using his statistical modelling, Dr Winchester places New Zealand, South Africa, France, and Ireland as the top four contenders for the Rugby World Cup 2023. However, he doesn't discount potential surprises and the role of the underdogs, including Fiji, Argentina, Japan, and Samoa.
The algorithm predicts the All Blacks as the most likely to win with a 33.5% chance, followed by South Africa at 26.2%, France at 20.6% and Ireland at 11.9%.
Interestingly, despite Ireland's high world ranking, Rugby Vision's predictions indicate some potential hurdles.
"The problem for Ireland is that they have both Scotland and South Africa in the pool, so according to the algorithm that I've developed, South Africa is slightly ahead of Ireland."
For Kiwi fans, there's a silver lining as the All Blacks are considered favourites.
"New Zealand, in terms of the calculation from Rugby Vision here, has a 33.5% chance of winning their fourth Rugby World Cup title."
The algorithm has spoken, but the real game is yet to be played. So, let’s sit back and enjoy the Rugby World Cup 2023, rooting for our favourite team.
Listen to the full chat between Dr Niven Winchester and Dominic George above.