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QBE Risk & Reward Index pinpoints exact moments when rugby teams win or lose games

QBE Insurance today launches the QBE Risk & Reward Index, a unique and innovative new data tool which shows how rugby teams trade off risk taking and risk mitigation in order to win the Guinness Six Nations tournament.

Developed by QBE and rugby performance analysts, the QBE Risk & Reward Index goes deeper than conventional rugby analysis by considering the role that defensive and attack risk taking has in winning the Six Nations in 2020 through a number of key performance indicators. The Index then correlates the approach of the teams, and some key playmakers, towards managing risk in the way they play and its impact on success on the pitch in winning matches.

For the first time in rugby analysis, the huge bank of available statistics and metrics are incorporated into an easy to understand measure of risk and reward which shows where and how the game has been and will be won or lost.

QBE Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio said:

“The QBE Risk & Reward Index shows that England won in 2020 through minimising risk by kicking, and playing without the ball, but also by taking the risk of conceding penalties to win the all-important and game changing turnovers. This carefully calculated style of play means they have identified exactly when to deploy risk to generate the greatest reward. How they manage risk is not going to change any time soon so we not only need to understand how it works but also its limitations.”

The QBE Index shows that the reward of winning matches and the tournament comes from managing risk throughout each game by:

  • Avoiding risk by kicking the most;
  • Playing without the ball;
  • Avoiding errors by not playing out wide;
  • Taking the risk of conceding penalties to win turnovers;
  • Playing in the Red Zone.

The QBE Risk & Reward Index is being launched at a live webinar at 11.00 on Thursday 4 February with speakers including QBE Ambassador and former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and rugby performance analyst Ross Hamilton, with the link here:



Sam Harrison, Managing Director of Insurance at QBE Europe, said: “As experts in managing risks for businesses, we have applied the same principles of risk management analysis to identify the key moments when risk and reward are calibrated to provide a predictable outcome. The QBE Risk & Reward Index is an innovative new tool, offering a unique insight into the risk and reward of each team’s playing style, helping to identify where the tournament will be won and lost.

“For the first time rugby fans will be able to discover and understand the data behind each team’s approach to the tournament and see how it affects their chances of success. QBE is delighted to be able to introduce these fascinating and hidden aspects of the game to rugby fans across the globe.”

Key findings of the QBE Risk & Reward Index

  • Teams that play wider on the pitch take more risk and that risk does not pay off as they are more likely to commit errors and less likely to win - at 33% win rate when playing off the inside centre position compared to 67% when playing off the scrum half position.
  • Taking the risk of conceding a penalty during a turnover does pay off as teams are more likely to win games (73%) if they win more turnovers than if they concede more penalties (47%).
  • England won the tournament in 2020 by a combination of the highest metrics compared to other teams for kicks in play, kicking metres, turnovers, dominant tackles, lineout steals and total possessions and entries in the Red Zone.
  • In 2020, England had the most Red Zone entries which shows that getting into the opposition 22 has a very big impact on tournament success.
  • Key playmakers like George Ford, Owen Farrell and Jonny Sexton control the game and manage risk effectively by having very low error rates for kicking and passing which, when combined with the positive outcome from their kicks and passes, leads to a high rate of reward compared to risk profile in the QBE Risk & Reward Index.
  • Teams win the most matches (93%) by entering, playing and scoring more in the Red Zone (the opposition 22) and by kicking the most and thus minimising risk by playing for territory and without the ball.
  • Teams that avoid errors and complete their possessions with positive outcomes (87%) and the least turnovers (80%) win the most matches.

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For further information and interviews please contact:

Mike Houghton

Mob: +44 (0) 7789 167009



Ian Lindsley

Mob: +44 (0) 7887 681561


Sandra Villanueva, Corporate Communications

Tel: + 44 (0) 7920 214144


Alexis Burris, Corporate Communications




Notes to Editors

The QBE Risk & Reward Index

The QBE Risk & Reward Index provides unrivalled insight into how the upcoming Six Nations is expected to be played and which team is most likely to emerge victorious. As experts in analysing, assessing and managing risks for businesses, QBE Insurance have adapted their techniques to work with analysts in the world of rugby – forming a unique insight into the way each team plans and plays to win and then manages the uncertainty of how reality plays out in a game.  The Index also brings to life the tactical nous of each team’s coach and play makers, ranking their systems and style into a digestible and easy to understand format which demonstrates how managing risk can lead to the reward of winning games.

Points scored in the Red Zone (or final quarter of the pitch between the try line and about 22m) have the highest correlation (93%) to winning matches.  So how a team manages risk, not making an error and achieving a positive outcome, in the final quarter of the opponent’s half is crucial to success. A team which scored more points in the Red Zone then went on to win 93% of the time, with 73% of wins related to higher rates of entry to the Red Zone and 53% for Red Zone efficiency (a positive outcome per entry).

Total kicks in play also has the highest correlation with winning games at 93%.  Playing for territory by kicking, and thus playing without the ball, was the most successful risk management strategy. There was only one game in the 2020 tournament where the team who kicked less won the match.

Positive outcomes, where the team who completed their possessions and avoided errors more than their opposition won 87% of the time.

Turnovers lost, where again a team which avoided errors with the fewest turnover won 80% of the time.

Gainline success has a very high correlation with the reward of winning matches at 80%.  Getting over the gainline puts huge pressure on the opposition but the win rate is even higher at 87% for before gainline carries where a team is not stopped before the gainline and thus avoids high risk situations where errors are likely to be made.


Turnovers won and penalties conceded. Turnovers lost usually have a high risk in that the outcome is often penalties conceded.  In fact taking that risk of conceding a penalty is actually worth it as turnovers won has a very high correlation at 73% with victory whereas the team that conceded more penalties than their opposition went on to win more often.  Only 47% of teams that conceded the least penalties went on to win.

Playing off positions 9, 10 and 12, scrum half, fly half and inside centre respectively. Teams who played off their 9 more than their opposition, and thus which managed the risk down by keeping the ball tight, were much more likely to win matches at 67%. The respective figures for 10 at 47% and 12 at 33% demonstrates that playing wider means that teams lost more often.  The wider a team plays the more chances for errors with more links to the chain and less support to resource breakdowns.

Possession time and carries. There is a low correlation between possession time and carries both at 33% in winning matches.  This demonstrates that mitigating risk and reducing errors by playing without the ball was more likely to win matches.



About QBE

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2019 was US$13.4 billion.

As a business insurance specialist, QBE European Operations offers a range of insurance products from the standard suite of property, casualty and motor to the specialist financial lines, marine and energy. All are tailored to the individual needs of our small, medium and large customer base.

We understand the crucial role that effective risk management plays in all organisations and work hard to understand our customers’ businesses so that we offer insurance solutions that meet their needs – from complex programmes to simpler e-trading solutions – and support them in minimising their risk exposures. Our expert risk management and rehabilitation practitioners focus on helping customers improve their risk management so that they may benefit from a reduction in claims frequency and costs.