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The power of '1' - an ontology of numbers

Roar Guru
28th November, 2018
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Roar Guru
28th November, 2018
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I must acknowledge Bluesfan, who germinated these thoughts, and apologise to Wilbur Smith – this is no story of the courage of a single person in the face of oppression and adversity, or the conversion of a drop of water into a waterfall – this is a story of the numbers, plain and simple.

It struck me that the single redeeming feature, the tangible positive of a miserable 2018, is that the Wallaby squad has learned numbers.

This reminded me of a diversionary and, until now, partially-wasted education in fractal mathematics: geo-spatial data exhibited as never-ending infinitely complex patterns that are recursive.

Computer geeks will know this, but recursion is the breaking down of a thing into smaller parts of itself so that similar patters emerge but on increasingly smaller, infinite scale.

Recursion is symmetrical which means that when magnified or dissected, each part will look basically like a part of the whole object.

So the process of fractal analytics is driven by recursion in an endless loop which can enter four states either;

  • Decay to zero,
  • Tend to infinity,
  • Oscillate between a number of states, or,
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  • Exhibit no discernible pattern
  • After very little though, the Wallaby team are fractals – each a smaller representation of the other, the whole represents the parts, trending between zero and infinity, simultaneously in a number of states and no discernible pattern.

    So much for the numbers, and, this is a serious question: what has reduced the once-fluid natural character of these once-respected athletes into the mess they are today?

    Commentators bemoan low basic skills. For sure, they all have or had the skills, so how do you unlearn a skill? How do you unlearn to pass? Why is Beale 2014 distinct to Beale 2018?

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    My hypothesis is that the baffling game-plays and bewildering defensive structures (unique in world rugby) rotation, mismatched couplings, selection out of position, setting unrealistic expectations, failure to face facts, narrow dictated game-plans and many other factors (some of which are listed below) have collectively, over time, sapped the life out of the players.

    They appear to me to have lost confidence in themselves – mired in a morass of silly unnecessary confusion and complexity. And, the numbers.

    Dismantling a persons’ self-confidence, destroying motivation, removing the innate and replacing with the inanimate takes time. Michael Cheika, the coaches, and Rugby Australia have achieved this.

    To my mind the collective analysis reveals;

  • Giving tacit praise, by repeated selection of players who are not deserving or in-form, creates division; in other words, lack of individual accountability. Selecting such players makes more-deserving players disconsolate.
  • Drowning the players in rules, regulationss and structures: the harder it is to get things done and making things complicated will kill momentum and enthusiasm.
  • Externalising blame – how often have we heard “it was the Ref, travel, weather, injury etc.”? It deflects accountability.
  • Changing plans for no particular reason is unsettling, and creates a loss of certainty. It also pits player against player when it comes to selection.
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  • Setting the bar too high – to truly demoralise and demotivate, set unreachable goals and targets and watch motivation tank. “We’ll beat England, we’ll beat Ireland, we have a chance in Bledisloe 3…” Add to this Hooper’s inane press statements and utterances about performance and so-called improvements.
  • Micro-managing really talented people to the point of making them ineffective.
  • The vesting of power in one, unchallenged, seemingly not held to account is an important factor, but Cheika is not solely responsible. Sure, he’s part of the problem, but the malady runs right through RA.
  • In putting a practical spin on the numbers, I envisage this pre-game scenario.

    15 will play 14, and 14 will play 15, but, in defence, 14 at 15 so the 15 can play 12 on attack – except counter-attack, when the 12, who is a 10, is filling in for 10 who is a 12, except for set pieces, but not lineouts.

    9 will play a defensive role, except in attack.

    At the 23 minute mark, 4, 3, 1, and 6 head right.

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    14, the right wing, will play left wing on kick off but right wing for a 22. But 14 must move to left wing when 11, who is the left wing, is chasing a re-start from the 22.

    7 will play at 8, except when 7 is playing 11 or 14, which will be between minutes 23 and 32, and when 15, who is playing 14 is actually playing 12.

    On defensive set pieces, 10 will move to 12, and 7 to 13, except for line-outs.

    On attacking line-outs, 7 will move to 13 in anticipation of 2, who’s a 23, gifting the ball to the opposition, thereby cunningly providing the opportunity to counter-attack, in which case 14’s skills come in to play, once he has retreated from the 12 position.

    Yes, it’s a fractal mess all right.

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    Leadership is a learned skill – broadly, what we have across RA, and an abject failure of leadership. And strategy. And execution.