The Daily Mail Trophy begins this weekend, over the last few years it has proved to be a real success, however for many it has also proved a little tricky to understand.
Therefore ahead of the start of the season, 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.
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.
There was some controversy last year with Wellington College winning despite losing a few games, however the quality of their fixture list always helps them to accumulate extra ‘opposition bonus points’.
That Kirkham, Bedford, and Bromsgrove, almost certainly the top three sides last year, finished in second, third, and fourth does show that by and large the system does work. Teams end up in the right section of the table give or take a place. It might not be perfect, but it certainly keeps everyone entertained!