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Development of an expected possession value model to analyse team attacking performances in rugby league

by   Thomas Sawczuk, et al.

This study aimed to provide a framework to evaluate team attacking performances in rugby league using 59,233 plays from 180 Super League matches via expected possession value (EPV) models. The EPV-308 split the pitch into 308 5m x 5m zones, the EPV-77 split the pitch into 77 10m x 10m zones and the EPV-19 split the pitch in 19 zones of variable size dependent on the total zone value generated during a match. Attacking possessions were considered as Markov Chains, allowing the value of each zone visited to be estimated based on the outcome of the possession. The Kullback-Leibler Divergence was used to evaluate the reproducibility of the value generated from each zone (the reward distribution) by teams between matches. The EPV-308 had the greatest variability and lowest reproducibility, compared to EPV-77 and EPV-19. When six previous matches were considered, the team's subsequent match attacking performances had a similar reward distribution for EPV-19, EPV-77 and EPV-308 on 95 +/- 4 of EPV-19 to evaluate team attacking performance in rugby league and provides a simple framework through which attacking performances can be compared between teams.


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