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REVIEW: Predictions within Sport: a joint meeting of the RSS Merseyside Group and Young Statisticians Section and live broadcast

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On 11th October 2017, the RSS Merseyside local group and the RSS Young Statisticians Section hosted a meeting on ‘Predictions within Sport’ which was also streamed live online. There were 25 people in attendance in Liverpool and an additional ten listeners online.

The meeting began with a talk by Kevin Brosnan of the University of Limerick and the Young Statistician’s Section entitled “False start disqualification in elite athletics: Are the rules fairs?” Kevin explored the response times of elite athletes in both men’s and women’s races at European and World Championships. Kevin considered a variety of different races including 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles and the indoor races 60m and 60m hurdles. Kevin discussed differences in response times (how quickly an athlete responds after hearing the starters gun), and false start statistics between male and female athletes, before investigating whether the current IAAF rules for detecting false starts are fair, or in fact too lenient.

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Kevin also demonstrated how the number of false starts and the athlete response times have changes in line with changes in the disqualification rules over the past 20 years designed to improve viewer experience of athletics. Kevin concluded by pointing out a case in the 2016 Olympics where athletes had surprisingly quick response times. Did they pre-empt the gun?

Following a coffee break, Dr Sean Williams from the University of Bath spoke on “Tackling safety issues in professional rugby union: Can we reduce the risk of injury?” Sean described his role in analysing injury trends in professional rugby, in an incredibly timely talk given the BBC article of the same day “A love affair that hurts- the story of rugby’s injury crisis”. The article is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/41544641.

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Sean described some of his groups’ work on an acute-chronic workload ratio, which is a tool designed to assess how a player’s recent training and match schedules influence their risk of injury. This is a tool that is potentially useful to coaches in preventing injury and managing training routines. Finally Sean described some recent work aimed at improving safety in the scrum, which had led to World Rugby changing their laws, and also a training routine in amateur rugby that had been shown to reduce the number of injuries experienced.

Both talks were entertaining and enlightening and provoked lively discussion, both in the room and from our online listeners.

Review by David Hughes (RSS Merseyside)

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