Player Performance BiPlot


For the propeller heads out there who care what this is, it’s a biplot showing the results of principal component analysis on how the top players have performed across the statistical categories to date this season. For those who want to know what the heck it means, read on.

First, the red arrows

They are the statistical categories that players earn points for on Rugby Boss. The closer together they are in direction, the more closely related they are. The two closest ones going out to the right, where the text actually overlays, are defenders beaten and metres gained. No surprises there that they are very closely related. Where it does get interesting is with kicks caught and turnovers. The close relationship shows that having to field kicks is a high source of turnovers, through not only knock ons but also getting isolated and being vulnerable to a turnover in the tackle. This is an area where lightning fast, precise decision making is required. Tackles are closely related to yielding penalties, demonstrating that this is an area where players are prone to concede penalties, especially with the new crackdown on tackling.


Next, the player names

The players are laid out based on their per game performance this season across all of the statistical categories. Where they are relative to the direction of the arrows shows how well they’ve performed in that category. For example, Ngani Laumape is the leading try scorer, so it’s no surprise to see him very closely aligned to the tries category. The players position though is based on their performance relative to all of the categories. Players that lie close together have performed similarly, players far apart differently.


You start to see some predictable patterns, the hookers congregate out near the lineouts won category as that’s where they generate most of their points (although Malcolm Marx has been a try scoring machine too!) The rest of the forwards tend to cluster out to the upper left, aligned to tackling and conceding penalties.  The one forward that stands out though is Ardie Savea who finds himself out to the right of the chart with the attacking categories, surrounded by backs. This is why Rugby Boss ranked him number 1 at the start of the season, he gives you that point of difference at the back row position. He’s scoring almost a try and providing a try assist per week, getting 53 metres on the ground, beating 3.2 defenders and getting 1.6 clean breaks. He’s just an all around beast contributing in all categories and getting you an average of 21 points per week.


Run DMC (Damian McKenzie) is a fantasy darling for very good reason, his 24 points per week is unsurpassed right now. But one thing that’s not a surprise is to see how closely aligned he is with turnovers. He’s averaging a league high 2 turnovers per week, and this won’t have escaped the All Blacks selectors gaze. He was turnover-prone last year too and this may be the one thing stopping him from more time in the black jersey. Turnovers at Super Rugby level are bad, turnovers at test level can be disastrous.


Despite their different positions, the Barrett brothers are closely clustered with similar styles. Each is scoring 0.3 tries per week, gaining 40 – 50 metres, providing a try assist, beating 2.5 defenders and averaging a clean break. Jordie is this years fantasy breakout like Run DMC was last year, and he should be the third Barrett brother on the plane to Europe in October resplendent in his brand new All Blacks blazer. Barring injuries, the Lions tour and Rugby Championship might be too early for him.