Winter Is Coming: New stats reveal which SL teams perform best in the cold

In Tune with the Seasons

Each day we ebb closer and closer to a restart of professional rugby league and as fans and players wait with bated breath, the incoming commencement date of a reimagined competition could have an impact on which teams are best placed to clinch the trophy for the tumultuous 2020 campaign.

All-Time Super League Win Rate
Team Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Castleford 42% 48% 50% 53%
Catalans 51% 42% 42% 37%
Huddersfield 42% 44% 37% 45%
Hull 53% 50% 32% 45%
Hull KR 44% 44% 35% 30%
Leeds 62% 64% 59% 70%
Salford 35% 31% 33% 40%
St Helens 71% 71% 62% 72%
Toronto 0% 0% 0% 0%
Wakefield 38% 33% 34% 47%
Warrington 53% 51% 51% 57%
Wigan 64% 70% 70% 56%

Autumn looks set to host the bulk of what remains of Super League XXV, and it’s in that season that many of the current clubs in the competition have struggled more than throughout the rest of the year.

Current ladder leaders Wigan Warriors are the only active team for whom autumn has brought increased success. Their 70 per cent win rate in the fall months is not only the best of any active team but it’s their best in any of the four seasons.

St Helens’ autumn win rate of 62 per cent is the second-best of any active team and while formidable, it is a significant departure from their regular track record which sits above 70 per cent in all other seasons.

Should fixtures extend into the winter, results could take yet another turn. The frostier months have brought more success for traditional Super League heavyweights. St Helens (72 per cent), Leeds (70 per cent) and Warrington (57 per cent) are the top three ranked teams in this season, with all three  posting their best win rate of any season in winter.

Wigan’s autumn successes could turn to ice if the competition goes late. While they may lead the current stock in success rate in autumn, their win rate plummets to 56% in winter – by far their lowest in any of the four seasons.

Super League – Team Averages by Season (2011-2020)
Row Labels Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Tries 4.2 4.3 4.1 3.8
Carries 186.1 183.5 184.2 186.5
Metres Gained 1271.4 1248.9 1257.6 1234.1
Line Breaks 5.8 6.0 5.9 5.6
Tackle Breaks 26.7 26.8 26.4 26.6
Quick PTBs 13.8 13.7 13.6 12.7
Offloads 10.6 10.6 11.3 10.6
Tackles 317.9 310.6 311.4 320.3
Missed Tackles 26.8 26.9 26.5 26.8

 

The battering cold of winter brings with it a significant change in game style in Super League. The last decade of team data indicates the further emergence of attrition when the temperatures drop.

Among the four seasons, winter ranks last in tries scored (3.8), line breaks (5.6) and quick play-the-balls (12.7) per team per game in the last decade of Super League action. This has been despite teams having more opportunities to rack up their numbers in these areas. The team game average for carries in the winters of the last decade stands at 186.5 – the highest of any of the four seasons. Likewise, tackles per team per game (320.3) have also risen to their highest when winter has come around.

There have been 49 games in the last decade of Super League where a team has crossed the line for more than 10 tries but only two of those have come during the winter months with the most recent of those two taking place in 2014. This is even though winter fixtures have comprised 12 per cent of all games that have taken place in the last decade.

With the colder months will come a different Super League than we have grown accustomed to in the past; the 12 teams will have to come to terms with the fact that enterprising rugby league may not be the answer to their championship aspirations this season. Whichever teams can adapt to the unprecedented environment the best will surely give themselves the greatest chance at success this campaign.

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