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Is this the first step towards the Official World Rankings?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, March 19 2010 @ 09:49 pm ACDT

My first thought was that Wes is right, depth counts for a lot. But then I started applying that to the IC to see if it really holds true. Now Wes was a recent coach in the IC so he probably knows better than me what the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents were. But in my reckoning it's actually the top end of players that matter more.

My point is not to include all 9s. Not even most 9s. It's to include, at reduced value, just 9s for teams not regularly playing 18s. So is depth a big decider in team ability? Yes in some cases.

But I would argue e.g. in most IC matches, it's the top end players who play a more important role. A few guns tend to dominate. Where would Ireland have got to without Mick Finn in 2008? Where would Samoa have been without Fia Tootoo in 2005 and 2008? Where would NZ have been in 2008 without Moss Doran, Andrew Congalton and James Bowden? Repeated performers that make the difference over and over again in matches between teams probably ranked within say 2 to 4 spots. Beyond that, it's the level across the board that counts - take PNG's best 3 out and they'll still beat Sweden every time. So my contention is that for close teams it's the top few game breakers that matter, and for more widely separated teams its the overall standard. I guess there may also be examples of close teams where the 18th player may be exploited as not as good as the other team's 18th.

But besides all that, my point is that I'm not saying that Team A should get credit for beating Team B at 9s when Team B was better than Team A at 18s. No way.

It's for including results where the teams don't play each other in 18s. Surely the result of A beating B in 9s, when A don't have a history of 18s, tells us that A are better than B at footy in general? And so worth including in the short term, to be swamped once they commence 18s.

And what about if A beat B and C regularly in 18s and all 3 are ranked, and along comes a new team D which plays B and C in 9s and wins. Doesn't that suggest D are better than B and C? Or at least indicate that they are reasonably good at Aussie Rules compared with B and C? Under the current system that will be steadfastly refused a ranking until they play 18s. Teams like Croatia remain on the outer. Aaron has mentioned the Euro championships, but doesn't that only have spots for a few teams? The remainder will continue with 9s.

But I concede that at this point I feel like maybe I'm losing the battle on including some appropriately selected 9s results, unless we get say the Europeans weighing in hard. If so that's okay, I'll just take my footy and go home.... 8)

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

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