This will be a quickie follow-up to my post on Elo ratings and power rankings.

After looking at Elo and Expected Points at season’s end, it’s really easy to see where good and bad teams end up. But that is retrospective and less fun than seeing it happen in real-time. So, without further ado, for the course of the 2014-15 rugby season I’ll be tracking the major European leagues (Top 14, Pro12, and English Premiership) as well as the Heineken Cup European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

For starters, for the Top 14, my “pre-season” rankings were just the end of season rankings I did in my previous post, with the newly promoted teams inserted in place of the relegated teams. Each week, as we gain more information through team performances, rankings will be adjusted if I can justify to myself that we’ve learned enough that a change is warranted. I warn that the early part of the season is going to be a little volatile. A little bit of that already happened with the Week 1 rankings.

I should note that I’ve included Expected Points with a Big Fat Asterisk. Big. Fat. Asterisk. When you see the laughable figures you will know why I wouldn’t put much stock in the first game of the season (or even month…).

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

So, here are a few comments:

  • Toulon is still the favourite to win Top 14 this season. This should be obvious based on the narrative, but as these weeks go on we’ll see what Expected Points and Elo tell us. Last season seemed to suggest that either Toulon was one of several favourites, peaked at the right time, or weren’t playing with full power throughout the competition (or Jonny Wilkinson voodoo).
  • Montpellier was essentially even with Clermont and Toulouse in my pre-season rankings, so being the only one to lose they drop.
  • I haven’t been high on Racing Metro’s underlying numbers over the past several seasons, even with the amount of star power they have. That being said, beating Montpellier on the road to start the season is worth bumping them up a spot or two.
  • Brive will not get 116 points in the standings. Go home Expected Points model, yer drunk.
  • Early relegation candidates are newly promoted La Rochelle, and to avenge last year’s Perpignan fiasco, Bayonne.