Can Ireland beat the All Blacks? Irish people really believe they can
There's an excited buzz in the air for Irish rugby supporters right now. Tomorrow, once again, Ireland will take on the All Blacks, in an attempt to break a 27-time losing streak (and 1 draw), against unquestionably the greatest rugby nation in the world.
And you might think, what's the big deal, this isn't a major tournament, there are no records to be broken, it's being played in a country that doesn't have a love for the sport, nothing is really on the line. This is just one more attempt in a long 111 year losing streak to the All blacks.
And yet, the Irish never really look at things like that. When faced with impossible odds in any sport, when everyone has all but written us off, the Irish supporters always have the mindset of 'yeah but what if...'
But what if, they're just underestimating us
But what if, they slip up
But what if, they get overwhelmed by the Irish supporters
But what if ...
As such a small nation, we'll always be considered to be punching above our weight. But when it comes to rugby, we really do stand proudly up there with the best in the world. We truly believe that if everything goes right, we can beat any team.
The emotions felt for the Irish team is a difficult thing to put down on paper, people talk of the mood in the Irish camp, the atmosphere around the stadium before a game, the emotions of the supporters, it's not really something that can be drawn on a chart.
But what if there was a way?
If we were to use a data analytics technique called sentiment analysis, could we understand the overall emotions being felt about the game tomorrow?
Sentiment analysis is essentially taking a piece of text and by looking at the words being used, determining if that piece of text is overall positive, negative or neutral. Where this can become interesting is if we were to apply it to something like Twitter.
If we apply this technique to all of the tweets being posted by people in Ireland about the Ireland vs All blacks game, could we get a picture of the overall feelings towards the game?
So, looking at the weeks leading up to the game, we took all of the tweets from people talking about Ireland vs the All Blacks in Ireland and performed a sentiment analysis on them. We also decided to do the same with all of the tweets coming out of New Zealand about the game and we were able to plot them on the charts below.
What these two charts are showing us is the overall emotions being felt by the people in both countries about the game tomorrow. Now, we know this is far from definitive fact, these are only showing the feeling of the people talking on Twitter about the game, and that’s only going to be a fraction of the overall supporters. Interestingly, though, this would include any journalists posting about the game, the people that others look to help formulate opinions.
From looking at the results, we can see that a high proportion of the tweets from both countries have a sentiment of 'anticipation', which may seem obvious, but just stands to prove the concept of this technique.
The next highest sentiment from both countries would be a feeling of 'trust'. Again, may seem obvious from the people in New Zealand, of course they would have trust in their team, it's the All Blacks. But, this does bring us back to the point we made earlier, when up against a team we’ve never been able to beat, the Irish people still have trust that we can win.
Another interesting point to take from these tables is that, for New Zealand, there does seem to be some fear creeping in. We know and the All Blacks know that Ireland are a good team, there is the potential that they can actually win this game. And what may be weighing on the minds of the New Zealand supporters is that all of the pressure is on them. If Ireland lose, then they've lost to the best, but the All Blacks are the ones on the winning streak.
One last analysis we did was to get the overall feeling towards Joe Schmidt, with him committing his future to Ireland, we wanted to see what the Irish people thought. And as you can see from the chart below, we have complete trust in him.
COME ON IRELAND!