Statistics and the Rugby World Cup

As a Scotsman I get a fair few enquiries from people back in the old homeland about possibly coming over for the world cup. However point of this post is statistics and in a broader sense reporting and measures in general. It is illustrated by a look at the Rugby World Cup website and the information contained in their world rankings. If you are Scottish it provides some crumbs of comfort...
As a Scotsman I get a fair few enquiries from people back in the old homeland about possibly coming over for the world cup. Sadly given distance and the fact that the the bankers have made us all poorer it looks as if only a few will make it over. However the point of this post is statistics. I have just emailed a friend in Scotland earlier and thought I would check some dates on the Rugby World Cup website. There is lots of info there, including the world rankings.

As a rugby man I thought I was aware of which nations really played Rugby and apart from the 6 nations in the northern hemisphere I knew there was the Southern version led by New Zealand, Australia and South Africa + some pacific islands. I was also vaguely aware that a few other nations can just about manage to scrape a squad together once every four years no doubt helped from some ex-pats, varsity etc. Sadly, I am also very much aware that Scotland was joint bottom with Italy in this years 6 nations table.

So re statistics. On the Rugby world cup site Scotland is ranked no 8 - not so good so far I was thinking... In my mind that was close to bottom. However looking at the full tables a different impression is given. Reading them you might even be forgiven for thinking that Scotland could be within a shout. Bottom of the table is that well know rugby playing nation - Finland at 94....

94 nations playing rugby - most people would not be able to list 94 countries in all, if given pen and paper ! However looking at it another way - hence the message re statistics - Scotland is 86 places up from the bottom and is in decile ten (just).

Who would have thought it ...?! Aren’t statistics wonderful they can so hide what is really going on, which is really the message of this post ...

We will be doing another post on statistics and reporting particularly as applied to HR. We are speaking to quite a few companies currently around provisioning systems for recruitment, and despite lots of rhetoric in the HR profession round metrics and so forth many companies in NZ who are doing quite well seem to manage without feeling the need to measure/report on everything. That said, are also those who don’t seem to measure anything and have no real idea of how well they are doing at all - in recruitment and HR terms at least.

Definitely worth some more thought and a future post.