Sunday 29 October 2023

World Cups - Rugby to Cricket

It appears that Adam Johnson has sadly passed away at the age of just 29 after his horrific accident last night while playing for the Nottingham Panthers which makes the rest of this post seem very trivial. 

Ice hockey has always been a dangerous game. The frozen puck can do some serious damage when hit at speed, and most players lose teeth or suffer facial injuries during their careers.

Life threatening injuries like the one that occurred last night are fortunately extremely rare, and in its long history, only one NHL player has died from injuries suffered on the ice (Bill Masterton in 1968 when he hit his - helmetless - head hard on the ice, went into a come and passed away two days later) but there was a fairly recent accident similar to last night's back in 2008 when Florida Panthers' Richard Zednik (also 29 at the time) almost died when the skate of a teammate accidentally sliced his neck in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. 

The Sabres were also involved in a game in 1989 when their goalkeeper Clint Malarchuk suffered a similar injury but survived.

Skates to the face are not unheard of but a death will doubtless bring the question of neck guards to the fore again. 

Hockey is a tough sport, and in many other ways it reminds me of Rugby Union, with its traditions and mutual respect. All very sad. RIP Adam. 

Well, speaking of Rugby, and the World Cup has finished with more success for the strategy of backing hot favourites and opposing weak favourites. 

England were 1.39 to beat Argentina, and did so, while New Zealand were the weakest of any of the 32 World Cup matches for which I have odds, and unsurprisingly lost to South Africa who have now won half of the World Cup tournaments they have taken part in.

If you'd followed my suggestion going into the knockout phase this year, you would have had a 100% winning record, with the four hot favourites all winning for a 1.00 unit profit, and the four underdogs all winning for a 5.73 unit profit. Luck was certainly on our side, which is always a plus.

From the 32 matches all-time, 20 of the 21 strongest favourites were winners, and 9 of the 11 weakest were losers (see left). If only every sport was as clear cut, and it's a shame this tournament is only quadrennial, and not only for the investment opportunity. It's a tournament that is slow to get going with so many one-sided games, but when those more competitive games come along, it's hard to beat as a sport. 

Although there are no elimination matches in the Six Nations, a similar pattern is seen here, although backing very short priced favourites is not profitable long term.

We have to wait a while for the Rugby Championship next summer, and there's the new Pacific Nations Cup featuring Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and USA which will take place next August / September which will have some knockout games.

We're also getting closer to the knockout games in the Cricket World Cup and in these games the strategy - based on the huge 17 game sample since 2011 for which we have data - is to simply back the favourite. 

The weakest of them all did lose, as did two others, all curiously to New Zealand who are thus the only underdog to win in these games and currently well placed to make the knockout stage again. Unlike England.  

Backing the favourite has an ROI of 21%, but as mentioned, it's a very small sample size. 

For those following the Underdog System in the World Series, we had another winner last night, officially probably at 2.3 but the site isn't updated yet. I layed the Texas Rangers at 1.73. The series is now tied after two games and moves to Arizona for the next three. 

In American Football, it looks like we'll be 3-3 on the College games, and not many qualifiers from the NFL today, although we did start the round with a winner on Thursday night. 

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