As we get deeper into this second half of term, The Daily Mail Trophy begins to become more an more over a concern to some people, however for many it also proves a little tricky to understand at time.
Therefore in order to answer a few of the questions we have been receiving over the last week or so, we thought a useful inclusion in this week’s newsletter would be a simple guide to how the Daily Mail Trophy actually works.
Fundamentally it is a league format between each of the schools that are entered. In order to enter, you must play at least five games against other Daily Mail Trophy schools over the season.
League position is based simply on the number of Merit Points that each side has. The accumulation of these merit points is where things can get a little tricky, so here is how you get them.
How the scoring works
Merit Points are your league points divided by the number of games you play, then a bonus is added for the difficulty of your opponents. We will explain how you accumulate all of this below.
Much like in the Aviva Premiership, League Points are awarded each game for your result, 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 0 for a loss, and 1 point for scoring at least 4 tries, and 1 point for losing by seven or less.
The bonus points for the difficulty of your opposition, or “Opposition Bonus” as we shall call them are awarded based on how your opponent did in last year’s Daily Mail Trophy competition. 0.3 points are awarded if they finished from 1st-25th, 0.2 from 26th-50th, 0.1 from 51st-75th, and 0 points from 76th and below or against sides not involved last year (these are awarded win, lose, or draw).
Hopefully we still have you.
So, to give you an example: If your team beats a side who finished 7th last year and gains a try scoring bonus, they would have 5.3 Merit Points.
4 points for the win, plus 1 point for the bonus = 5 points. Divided 5 by the one game played = 5. Plus 0.3 “Opposition Bonus” points = 5.3 Merit Points.
The difficulty of course comes when you start getting multiple games because of course your league points divided by games played gives you an average, which means your points tally can go down as well as up, which makes projections for future positions rather difficult. In just two games there are twelve different potential points totals that a side can have.
To continue with the previous example though, if your team’s second game was against a team ranked 30th last year, and beats them but without a bonus points, you would now have 5 Merit Points.
Here’s how the maths works there: 9 league points (1 BP win, 5 pts, and 1 win, 4 pts), divided by 2 games played = 4.5. Plus 0.3 “Opposition Bonus” points from the first game, and 0.2 from the second (opposition was ranked 30th) = 5 Merit Points.
Despite winning the second game the points total has gone down from the first by 0.3.
Hopefully that makes some sense, it is a complex method of scoring but does leave the table looking pretty close to a fair reflection of the quality of sides that season.
A number of the questions over the last week or so relate to some of the more controversial areas of the competition. A lot has centered around the issue of cancelled games, in that if your opposition cancels a game then you can in effect be punished for that as you do not receive the ‘opposition bonus’ if the game never happens.
There is also the issue of geographical bias, in that if your location means your fixtures generally happen to be against sides that finished lower down the table last year, you will not necessarily be positioned in relation to your true quality as your potential for ‘opposition bonus’ points is vastly reduced.
Of course every single schools rugby competition has its issues, certainly in the fifteen-a-side arena. All suffer either from a lack of entrants or not having all of the top sides entering or any number of other issues. In many ways that is the advantage of the Daily Mail Trophy, its particular issues and the fact that it is a merit table mean that if you consider it a rough guide rather than something that gives you specific answers over who is the best, 43rd, or 72nd side in the country then it can be a useful tool.