As the autumn internationals draw nearer the analytics team at Your Favourite Story decided to get involved in the spirit of the game. Using the expertise of our analytics desk, we collected data from all the test matches played between England and their forthcoming opponents. This visualisation was created in Tableau, a data visualisation and dashboarding software package, which helps users get insights from their data. We use this for our clients but thought that it would be interesting to apply these skills to topics that capture our imagination! These types of visualisations can be important not only in the sports world, but for a variety of different fields to get the most out of their insights. Below is an interactive graphic, which shows some interesting stats, but can give us an idea about how England has performed historically.
We first had to collect the data. Using import.io we could scrape the publicly available data from the ESPN site, pulling data for all the test matches played between England and their upcoming opponents for the Autumn series.
Once we had the data the next stage was to load it into Tableau and get started! One of the benefits of Tableau is the ease and speed with which you can get visualisations. Utilising the various chart types and built-in interactivity we began to piece together some of the stories in the data. Once we had a few ideas we got to work wireframing how we wanted our final product to look.
Going through multiple iterations we sketched ideas and possible dashboard designs, discussing the benefits of presenting data in this or that format. One of the central things we have learnt is to simplify the story, drawing the users attention only to what is useful information. It is not necessary to have the most complicated chart in the world if no one understands what it is showing. From this we came up with a simple bar graph, with scores for or against England deviating from a central point, representing a draw. This immediately shows who won and the size of the bar shows the winning margin for either team.
Making the dashboard interactive was important, as we wanted users to be able to engage with the data and explore it for themselves. Using the icons to represent the teams also visually guides the user, helping them to understand what they are looking at and providing context for the data.
As the data shows, England’s record against South Africa, their first adversaries, leaves a lot to be desired. The Springboks have a 62% win record against England, with a cumulative difference of 188 points in South Africa’s favour. Who can forget the 2007 World Cup Campaign, where England were demolished in their opening game by the Springboks only to fight their way to the final, eventually losing to a formidable South African side.
That being said, South Africa have struggled for form in recent times, and while England have got their own injury worries, the Twickenham crowd will look to carry their team home.
Fiji have caused less trouble for England, and are yet to stage an upset despite their free-flowing style and powerful wingers. Maybe the Fijian Superstar, Nemani Nadolo can put in a shift for the touring side and cause trouble.
Argentina will make their way to Twickenham on the 26th November and will look to repeat their last and only victory in England, the 2006 game in which Frederico Todeschini came away with a sizeable bag of points. As a trip down memory lane this one is rather painful for England fans, but there were glimmers of hope. Paul Sackey scored his first international try and Toby Flood made his test debut.
Since then, Argentina last won the 2009 game in which the Puma’s pulled away with a 14-3 half time lead. A late try by Matt Banahan was not enough to overhaul the deficit, and Juan Martin Hernandez’s boot proved to be decisive in getting Argentina to the final whistle. However, on balance, England has the stats on their side. They have won 74% of matches and have a cumulative total of +206 points in their favour.
The last and final test will likely prove the most challenging. Australia and England have a history stretching back to 1909 where Australia won 9-3. On the 3rd December this rivalry will continue.
Australia have the win: loss ratio on their side, winning 53% of matches compared with England’s 45%. The cumulative points total is massively on the Wallabies side, scoring 235 more points than England.
The 1998 demolition will probably be forcibly erased from the memories of England fans, as will the 2015 group stage World Cup defeat, but more recent matches give England hope. The 2016 tour to Australia was England’s first ever series victory away from home. Not only that, England won all 3 matches, ending in a 44-40 thriller that will go down in history as one of England’s most impressive victories. This game was England’s largest ever points tally against the Wallabies, but also saw Captain Dylan Hartley restore pride to an England team which had headed for an early exit in the home World Cup the year before.
We had great fun playing with this visualisation, and encourage you to get involved with exploring the data for yourself. You can select the opponent, highlight individual matches and follow to the match overview page by clicking on the bars in the table below. We have pointed out some key games from the history books, but by interacting with the data yourself perhaps you can stir some of those memories of your favourite victories and most heart wrenching losses.
If you have any further questions about the process or if you would like to learn more about how we are using Tableau please don’t hesitate to contact the Analytics team at firstname.lastname@example.org.