ComeAllWithin.co.uk
John Kingstons Roadmap 2017-18
By Poorfour
August 8 2017

Well, here we go again. After a mixed first season, but one that ended with Quins qualifying for the Champions Cup for the first time in 3 years, John Kingston enters his second year in with a squad that is more his own.   

The most significant change, inevitably, is the recruitment of Demetri Catrakilis to replace Nick Evans, who moves to the coaching team. Replacing a player of Evans’ undoubted quality is no easy feat, but word from the squad at the pre-season dinner is that in Catrakilis, Jackson, Swiel and Lang Quins have four fly halves with four very different styles and skill sets. Among other signings, perhaps the most exciting is another former All Black in Francis Saili, joining us after a stint in the Pro12.

We also see the return of a number of players from injuries that prematurely ended their seasons – most notably Clifford, Chisholm and Marchant – and several returning from experiences on tour that will have served them in good stead. With Will Collier making a strong England debut and Kyle Sinckler making a big impact in New Zealand, Quins will be hoping they can bring some of their tour form into the quarters, 

How the roadmap works

As fans, we would love Quins to win every game but coaches know that’s not a realistic goal. The Aviva Premiership is too competitive for that, and the wrong injury at the wrong time can wreak havoc with a team’s rhythm and structure. So coaches break the season into blocks, and in each block will have certain games they target. Over the course of the season, they’ll adjust their targets for each block depending on how well or badly the season is going.

How do they determine these targets? At a game by game level, the general aim is to win as many home games as possible, away games against the weaker sides, and try to get bonus points when you do lose. Try bonuses are usually just that, bonuses; if you’re doing well, you might hope to pick a couple up at home against the relegation contenders, but not more than that. Add that up, and the aim is to gather enough points over the course of the season to top the table, or failing that make top 4. If you can’t do that, getting top 6 and Champions Cup rugby next season is the aim. And if even that is beyond you, better make sure you finish in 11th.

The number of points needed for each of those slots has been fairly consistent over the seasons. The way I like to do it is to look at the average number of points needed for secure the position below the one you want, and then add one standard deviation (a measure of how much that average varies from season to season) and round up.  That gives you a total that will secure the position you want about 90% of the time. The exception is avoiding relegation, where I like to build in a safety margin, so I look at what it would take to secure 11th and add a standard deviation to that. That conveniently ends up with a target that’s 1 point above the highest ever points total for a relegated team – the 38 points garnered by Quins in 2004-05.

Here’s a table showing how the points needed for a position have changed over time:

roadmap_years.jpg


The 2017-18 Roadmap

Aside from the relegation spot, which sometimes holds a Quins or a Saints and sometimes a Rotherham or a London Welsh, the results are pretty consistent. One standard deviation works out at about 4 points – or one win – across the rest of the table; one unexpected loss can really make a difference. The targets for this year work out almost the same as last year, and I’ve also included what you would actually have last year needed to secure 11th, 7th, 5th and 2nd. As you can see, they’re a little bit different – the top and bottom of the table were more polarised than in previous seasons.

So, what should we be looking for this year? Here’s my attempt. I’ve focused on wins and LBPs, beginning with a scenario in which we win just half our home games and the opening “away” game in the London Double Header, and building up to one in which we lose away at Exeter, Wasps, Tigers, Sarries and Saints, but win the rest of our games. 

roadmap_points1.jpg

Last season we scraped into the 3rd column from the right. Here’s hoping that Quins’ recruitment pays off and we can edge towards the top of the table this season – but we also need to recognise that the top of the table gets more competitive each year.