Weather impact and rugby….both codes!

Anyone doubting the impact of weather on rugby should have had those doubts well and truly expunged this weekend, when the heat and humidity of Houston proved to be absolutely pivotal in closing and indeed overturning the large gap in experience and class, between the USA and Scotland.

Temps of 29c, combined with relatively humidity in excess of 70% was always going to be a leveller, I said as much in a post last week when looking ahead to the game, but in the end it proved to be like 2 or 3 extra men for the US and Scotland just couldn’t cope with it….it’s that simple.

You see conditions like that not only impact the body, but they also play on the mind, as weather often does. Yes the Scots knew it was going to be hot/humid, but walking out into what feels like an oven and sweating profusely before you’ve even made your first contribution to the game can be very unsettling…especially when you look at an opposition that seems to be coping with things with consummate ease.

Frankly I think arranging a game of rugby in Houston in June was probably not the smartest move ever made, but hey-ho, it presented a great opportunity to make some easy money and that’s never a bad thing.

Also in line for some criticism this weekend was Eddie Jones and England, who again squandered a decent lead in Bloemfontein to give S Africa the 2nd Test and in turn the series….handing out England’s 5th defeat on the bounce. OK there was no weather as such for this one, but questions still need to be asked about preparation, not least why did England train all week at sea level in Durban - only to then play their 2nd game in a row at altitude?

It’s no secret the ball behaves differently in the rarified atmosphere of the Highvelt and whilst Bloemfontein at 4,600ft asl is not quite as high as Jo’burg, it is 4600ft higher than the beach in Durban, where England appeared to spend so much time training.

Quite why England prepared for a game on a ground higher than the top of Ben Nevis on a beach is a mystery, but it really can’t of helped and in games of such small margins, I can’t help thinking they gifted the Boks this one.

So now to the coming weekend and Rugby League this time, when Saturday sees England playing the USA in Denver. Believe it or not this isn’t an evening match, KO is mid afternoon in the heat of the day and boy it can get hot in Denver in June…despite the city being close to 6000ft asl.

I fully expect temperatures to be in the 30-32c (86-90f) when the side amble out (can’t see them wanting to run!) and unless they get lucky with a thunderstorm, the sun is likely to be blazing down too. This one could be brutal, even dangerous if not handled correctly, these really are not the kind of conditions to be doing anything other than sitting around a pool with a cold beer in….lets just hope England know what’s coming and prepare accordingly, which hopefully won’t mean training all week on a beach near Seattle!


Will the Weather Win the World Cup?


BWS article via on Pinnacle Sports:-

Weather in sport counts. Often underplayed, sometimes ignored but occasionally used to the full advantage, weather impact can be a maker and a breaker for those both competing and betting. How important will the weather be at the 2018 World Cup? Read on to find out.

Jim N R Dale is the Founder and Senior Sports Meteorologist for British Weather Services. Having worked on a WIDE (weather impact deviation expectation) service, Jim is well aware of how influential weather is in sport. He has now taken the time to write an article explaining why bettors need to take the weather into consideration at the 2018 World Cup.

Let me make the point of this article clear; the World Cup 2018 will be weather sensitive and factoring in the atmospheric elements into your calculations could provide you with a distinct edge. So, for how it may come to be pivotal in the various outcomes of World Cup.

For the 2018 World Cup we have an immense sized country in Russia, with the potential of all kinds of weather, and we have an equally climatically diverse set of competitors.

Weather impact for most of us is a consideration at best and ignored or tolerated at worst. It comes and goes, season after season, year after year. Although the economy is what now most concerns nations and those within them, believe me when I say that weather is still a very strong number two in governing our daily lives.

We dress for the weather, chase down the weather when we want whatever it’s delivering and largely eat and drink according to the weather. Indeed, we rather take the weather for granted and in that we (governments, companies and individuals) kind of lose sight of the many nuances and perhaps more importantly, the potential advantages of mapping the weather and strategically planning for it.

I guess us sporting types might regard cricket, tennis and American football as being the most weather sensitive of sports, though many would argue that sailing, cycling, athletics, Aussie football, horse racing, baseball and the two rugby codes are impacted just as much, maybe even more.

Now, within all those sports and perhaps a few more besides, be honest, do you factor in the weather when it comes to your bets? Some people will, but plenty won’t. In truth, even some bookmakers won’t place as much value on it as they should.

It should be noted that the weather is ever-moving and ever-changing, so it’s even difficult for the likes of us as sports meteorologists to keep tabs on it all of the time. It could be that some bookmakers are too pre-occupied with the data streams they have been fed (absent of weather) and the bets that are being placed to even consider the fact that an all-changing thunderstorm has just entered the arena – this is where bettors can take advantage.

Learning how to adapt to the weather in soccer

Soccer has as many swings and roundabouts as there are clouds in the sky. If we strip out all the complications, the tactics, the copious money and the many emotions, it simply comes down to two teams of eleven trying to kick or head a leather ball into the opponent’s goal (something that involves atmospheric physics).

For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been an English FA Youth coach. While it was hard work and every season I had zero control over the squad that I ended up coaching, I did have one weapon that very few other coaches used, I called it ‘Weather Ball’.

It’s difficult to win the title in England, because of the weatherPep Guardiola

Weather Ball simply meant that I took some of what I knew from my profession onto the pitch and employed tactics to suit the weather of the day, especially if the weather was extreme. It was akin to playing chess, knowing when to move the piece this way or that, depending on what my opponent was looking like.

Some of the edges were small – even minuscule, such as ensuring players arrived with gloves on a freezing cold day (these are children remember so this was more important than you might think), or using a strong favourable wind to aid our pressing game, or even ensuring a waning sun wasn’t going to blind our goalkeeper, so long as we won the toss.

We all know that an edge can count massively no matter how small it is, and I say without fear or favour that my team often achieved results against opponents that were far superior to ourselves. Some of the measures we took might sound simple but you’d be surprised by how much can be gained from how little other people do.

Applying knowledge to professional soccer

My experiences with youth soccer taught me that clearly I had an advantage in the understanding of how weather might affect a game or indeed a season. But in order to move this on from the niceties of youth soccer and fiddling around on the margins with the bookmakers, we (British Weather Services) had to do more; numbers needed to be crunched – lots of numbers.

There was a requirement to prove all types of weather impact on the game, at all times of year, across various leagues and divisions. We started with a few hundred matches across the English Premier League over a single season, which, with some minor adjustments largely confirmed what we kind of knew.

We next moved on to analysing 17,000 matches over the five main European leagues, whilst keeping an eye on what was also going on in Australia, Japan and the US. It’s true to say there were some deviations and surprises, and there were certainly no single game panaceas. However, clear patterns and weighted averages emerged.

In the way it was done at the time and to an overwhelming extent how it is still done today, bookmakers drive soccer match probabilities (namely, win probability, goal, corner, player score and card expectations), via six key areas; Form, head to head, statistics, the referee, the marketplace and maths vs. positional value.

It could be that some bookmakers are too pre-occupied with the data streams they have been fed (absent of weather) and the bets that are being placed to even consider the fact that an all-changing thunderstorm has just entered the arena

It is now possible for us to add a number seven to that list; the weather. Now I’ll be honest with you, this is where I have to limit what I tell you because obviously it’s got value (I make a living from selling it). Not only would bettors and bookmakers find ‘Weather Ball’ very useful, but professional soccer clubs as well.

Although it’s purely a line in the sand and very dependent upon the weather in-action over an entire season and at least partial adoption of our ongoing match advisories, I firmly believe up to eight points per season could be gained by a club in a 24-club league. Now that’s a fair few points, it could be the difference between winning the league (which is why we have gained the interest of both Premier League and English Championship clubs).

Weather creeps up on teams and players alike, both at the physiological and psychological levels. Weather can make the ball move quicker or slower. It can make a game heavy going or easy going. It hands advantage to the informed and a leaded weight to the ignorant. Rain, wind, snow, heat, cold, humidity and a heady mixture of all those elements have all been seen to impact match outcomes.

It won’t be giving any secrets away to suggest light or moderate rain during a game will on average raise goal tallies. That average has been measured countless times and in England and Germany results in almost 75% of matches ending with more than 2.5 goals scored. Such conditions tend to favour fast-paced, quick passing teams, but absolutely drench the pitch and it swings the other way.

All told there a couple of dozen weather-related market and match deviations, affecting everything from the Handicap market and Total Goals, right the way through to Total Cards and even penalty expectations. Indeed, the importance of weather even came from the lips of Manchester City’s coach, Pep Guardiola when he stated “It’s difficult to win the title in England, because of the weather”.

In cup games the same match probabilities exist, this time arguably with an additional dose of luck required in order to prosper through the rounds. Take Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League run and their consequential victory; luck of every kind arrived in spades and was gratefully accepted.

I guess positive weather impacts could be considered a form of luck – for example an opponent being sent off in the snow for a mistimed tackle, or an astonishing wind-assisted shot parachuting over the goalkeeper. But in actual fact the majority of weather-related occurrences can be expected and even planned for – at least to one degree or another.

Will weather win the World Cup?

Is it a mere coincidence that England won their only World Cup in the very temperate and at times rainy World Cup of 1966 – absolutely ideal weather conditions for the gritty England squad at the time? Indeed, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany are the only countries to have ever won World Cups away from their own continents. So, is that all about homely familiarity, climate familiarity, or both?

Weather can make the ball move quicker or slower. It can make a game heavy going or easy going. It hands advantage to the informed and a leaded weight to the ignorant.

For the 2018 World Cup we have an immense sized country in Russia, with the potential of all kinds of weather, and we have an equally climatically diverse set of competitors. Russian weather is generally at its best at this time of year, with a general maximum average temperature range across the 12 venues of 21 to 27 degrees Celsius, with circa 8-10% of the total time experiencing rainfall.

The southern-most venues in Volgograd, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don will be most prone to sudden heat plumes emanating out of Egypt, crossing Turkey and the Black Sea to bring temperatures into the low to mid 30’s, along with uncomfortable humidity values.  Although mid-evening kick offs, Brazil vs. Switzerland in Rostov on June 17 and Tunisia vs. England in Volgograd on June 18 will need to be watched very carefully, as I venture Brazil and Tunisia will benefit from any such plume.

Nigeria vs. Iceland with an early evening-kick off on June 22 is made for Nigeria and unlucky Iceland draw the potentially hot straw again in Rostov on June 26 with a mid-evening tie with Croatia. It’s fair to say heat and humidity may come to play a part almost anywhere, especially for the earlier daytime kick offs. At such times, you may want to back the team who are more naturally acclimatised to such conditions

On the other hand, rain, wind and cooler temperatures will tend to suit most of the European contingent and it’s usual that the more northern venues in Moscow, Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg experience more of a temperate feel than most.

The bottom line here is that if you are playing ‘Weather Ball’, each and every match will need to be assessed 24-36 hour pre the kick off and again around kick off time. Source your weather, and then apply it to the natural status of the teams taking part – along with the various markets on offer. At the most basic level, hostile weather will be more of a leveller; sedate weather will tend to favour defensive teams and a convenient sprinkling of rain will favour possession-centric teams.

One final thing; the weather won’t win the World Cup in 2018 as it might in 2022, but it may well help to create and destroy single match fortunes in equal measure. Watch for the penalty in the rain, watch for the red card hot head and watch for the unexpected wind-blown scrap.

Retail weather fortunes…will they change this Summer?

The high street and indeed retail in general was already under significant pressure from a number of angles as official meteorological Winter turned into Spring, so what was badly needed by many was a lengthy spell of fine, dry and warm weather to boost seasonal sales, lift the mood and bring shoppers our of winter hibernation….well that was the plan/hope!!

What actually transpired of course could not have been further removed from what was required. The Beast from the East part 1 in early March was said to cost UK PLC in excess of $1 billion per day, with the mini mid month Beast also having a significant (thought far smaller) impact. As March turned into April Spring remained stubbornly elusive. Tree’s remained bare, the hedgerows colourless and consequently sales of hats, coats and scarves remained wonderfully buoyant for those with the forethought and good sense to professionally manage their weather risk/sensitivity.

Yes as the financial headlines have screamed time and time again, the miserable Spring weather and especially the Beast gave many firms a serious and in some cases fatal mauling…however for others, the small but now growing number of smart/shrewd ones out there, it provided the kind of golden opportunities even they once thought unimaginable.

But enough of the past – we are of course where we are and at least May has provided some welcome bouts of warm/very warm seasonal weather to brighten the gloom, and provide hope that a weather driven rebound is at least possible and hopefully probable as we enter Summer on Friday.

Without question the next 3-4 months are going to be critical for a number of businesses of all sizes, especially some large PLC’s who find themselves in the invidious position of needed to play catch up big time, having been caught with their weather risk management pants around their ankles since Xmas.

To these and many others I say there are solutions out there, ranging from simply taking a Summer Planning Forecast (ours will be issued by close of play tomorrow), through to full on weather risk management, via our Weather Sense product.

We all know that we won’t see another bitterly cold, snowy Beast this Summer (not even in the UK!!), but that isn’t to say we won’t see other forms of highly impactful weather at times, as well as plenty of run of the mill stuff that hugely influences buying trends and patterns.

Looking back for the final time now – we gave our Weather Sense clients a 3 week lead time regarding the Beast (we even gave our LinkedIn contacts a 2 week lead time, but that won’t be happening again), a similar call about an impending significant heatwave this summer will be commercial gold dust and may go a huge way to help balance the books.

Over to you.











Test cricket, betting and weather

When asked which world sport is most weather sensitive, I’m sure the vast majority of people would say cricket, with test cricket played across 5 days being the most weather sensitive of all.

During those 5 days teams can bowl a total of 90 overs per day (6 balls per over) across strictly designated periods of time, so whenever rain begins to eat into the time available overs can and often are lost.

For instance it’s very possible for the first 4 days of a Test match to be perfectly dry, allowing 360 overs to be bowled (4 x 90), but if the last day is washed out completely by rain, they don’t come back out again when things dry up to finish off…the match is declared a Draw.

To many outside of the game of cricket it sound pretty crazy that two sides can battle it out for four whole days, only to end up drawing the game because weather washes out the fifth and final day, even if one of the sides was totally dominant….but it gets worse believe it or not, yes it really does!

The fact is it could remain dry for 4.9 days, but if the match hasn’t been won and a shower comes along in the final half hour of Day 5, they will walk off the pitch and declare the game a Draw – again even if one of the sides was totally dominant. Even in this situation when they have played 99% of available time, they won’t come back out to try and complete the game once the shower passes, if they are out of time.

The above is just one in a whole range of possible Time v Overs scenarios that can occur across the duration of a Test, many of which appear equally ludicrous to those looking in from the outside. So it’s pretty clear that whenever and wherever test cricket (5 day) is played, be it in The West Indies, Australia or England, bookmakers and punters alike always have to keep at least one eye on the weather due to it’s ability to significantly affect the result.

Moreover it’s not just rain that can result in time/overs being lost, bad light( gauged by the umpires using a light meter) can also mean play is unable to continue, due to the dangers involved in not being able to see a heavy cricket ball arrowing towards your cranium at 90mph+. Bizarrely many grounds have floodlights, which are more than capable of raising light levels sufficiently to ensure safety, but we’ve seen situations in the past where sides have walked off because the lights were not allowed to be turned on. Yep!

All the above and much, much more means betting on Test Cricket is neither for the feint of heart, nor the ill informed. Yes there is good money to be made, not just in betting Test cricket but also across all other forms of the game, but this is certainly one arena where sports meteorologists such as ourselves really can make a huge difference….to both moods and bank balances.

So with another English Test cricket season about to kick off, all eyes turn to Lords on Thursday for the start of the match against Pakistan. This one doesn’t look like being the kind of cool, wet test often seen at HQ in late May, quite the opposite if fact temperature wise, but some heavy, potentially disruptive showers will certainly keep us on our toes….and hopefully present further great opportunities for our clients to prosper.



When Moneyball meets Weatherball

OK, let’s clear this up from the off, I’m not claiming to be Brad Pitt, that much should be slightly obvious to many of my connections :-D

However Brad and I do have one thing in common and that is we recognise the traditional way of doing things, whilst comfortable and all homely, might not necessarily be the best way… at least not always.

Just as Brad (in reality Billy Beane of Oakland Athletics) recognised with his baseball team, assessing player value by traditional methodology alone was not the be all and end all.

Now I’m not going to spoil the plot for anyone who hasn’t seen Moneyball, but within football there is a tangible, quantifiable and all important edge to be found by using the same kind of thought pattern – in this case specific to the impact of weather.

At a very basic level, Player A might be considered superior to Player B overall.

However, if Player A was raised and played most of his football in Egypt, would his level of superiority be the same over Player B during a cold, wet and windy game in England? The answer according to our research is no, indeed when conditions are sufficiently hostile, the superiority can actually be reversed. Conversely, if conditions are warm and sunny, as we saw on a few occasions towards the back end of the season, the superiority can increase as the inferior quality player struggles rather more.

This any many, many other factors associated with weather are now starting to be considered and in some cases implemented by coaching staff, both in training (where it’s vital to plan for expected conditions) and at match time….which is where we come to the simple ethos of Weatherball.

Knowing what weather to expect is clearly very important, knowing what impact that weather has on the performance of individual squad members is vital, but knowing it’s impact on opposition players is priceless. You see this isn’t just about using weather to get the best out of your side, it’s also about using it to expose and target the weaknesses within the opposition, especially in key positions.

With leagues across the UK and Europe becoming every more competitive, as well as ever more lucrative, staying ahead of the game and giving yourself the best chance to end up on the right side of the result is imperative…Weatherball gives every club that opportunity!





Ignorance isn’t bliss – not in business

Once again, this morning we see another major UK business blaming the weather, at least in part, for poor financial performance. Sadly for the business in question it’s not the first time it’s done so, in fact only last autumn it again blamed weather for hitting profits… so clearly they know it matters significantly.

After blaming the cool, wet summer last year for impacting their P&L, I was invited to their head office in the Midlands to offer up some potential solutions going forward. Having presented well and after receiving a positive response I left feeling relatively optimistic that the firm were serious about addressing weather impact; so, within 24hrs I’d supplied a lengthy, in-depth email detailing the potential options – as per their request.

A week or so later I chased up my mail with the two recipients, then having received no response I did so again a fortnight or so later. Thereafter I attempted to make contact on numerous occasions across the following weeks and months, through various mediums, only to be met by a wall silence - not even a ‘thanks but no thanks’, or worse, but I’d have preferred that!

I’m not going to lie…when I saw the report this morning saying they had again been hit by weather, this time of the cold and wintry variety, I was neither surprised or disappointed. OK it may simply have been the case that they went elsewhere for their weather risk solutions, that’s always a fair possibility, but even if so a ‘thanks but no thanks’ doesn’t really seem like too much to ask for, does it?

Sadly, in my experience this firm are far from alone in the way they’ve behaved over this; it’s almost appears to be a national business disease. What worries me is not the fact people invite others to meetings, get them to present ideas and confirm things in writing – that’s business, it’s what we do. No, what worries me is why so many think it’s perfectly acceptable to completely ignore someone who has done just that. It isn’t, there should be no place for ignorance within business, but it seems to pervade it like a cancer and it’s getting worse.

We see it all the time with people who apply for jobs and get completely ignored - I think there’s nothing worse than this ‘if you don’t hear from us you were unsuccessful’ mantra, it’s just stinks of laziness and disrespect. It’s the same for those who get selected for interview but then fail to get the job; how difficult is it to let them know they were unsuccessful and more importantly why? It’s not difficult, again it’s just lazy and disrespectful.

We, as the business community need to start thinking differently, very differently. There has never been an easier time to communicate and most of us have no problem communicating when we want something… but when we decide we don’t want it we cannot continue to think ignoring people is acceptable or polite and just what is ‘normal’ – it isn’t and it should never be.

Was that a fair rant?






The Beast From the East…and it’s tail of woe!

So far this Spring we’ve seen a raft of UK companies blaming the severe weather in late Feb/early Mar for their poor financial performance, but to be frank this was about as inevitable as night following day, therefore I’m certainly not claiming to be some sort of modern day Mystic Meg for suggesting this would happen some weeks ago.

Yes, the phenomena that became well known as the Best From the East (a term first coined by myself many years ago) was without question a significant/severe meteorological event as far as the UK is concerned. We just don’t see the kind of heavy snow and sub zero temperatures the Beast delivered very often in this country, but (and this is the important bit) it wasn’t as if it crept quietly and stealthily across Europe on Tues 27th Feb, then pounced without warning on Weds 28th, taking everyone by complete surprise – hello, its 2018, not 1820!

The so called BFTE was very well forecasted, it’s as simple as that, pretty much anyone and everyone knew it was coming not hours in advance, not even days in advance, but actually weeks in advance…3 weeks to be precise. OK at that range detail was elusive - no one is claiming that on Feb 7th folks were told there would be 7.54cm of snow 3 miles from Guilford between 0734hrs and 1856hrs on Feb 28th. However even way back then they were told a potentially severe wintry weather event was looking increasingly likely towards months, as the direct result of an impending Sudden Stratospheric Warning, therefore get yourselves prepared.

From that point onwards dozens more forecasts were issued as the SSW unfolded and by mid month the ‘get prepared’ message was being rammed home on a daily basis, indeed it was almost impossible to avoid a media outlet that wasn’t now talking about incoming severe wintry weather later in the month. Those calls only got louder and louder as we got closer to week 4 of Feb - by now the dates of arrival were fixed on 27-28th and the get prepared massage had become a vociferous, ‘you really do need to make all possible and practicable preparations, this has he potential to be a serious event’. From the 23rd onwards, still 4-5 days out, the loud shouts became a scream.

So given all of this, surely it’s not unfair nor unreasonable to ask just what these companies who have and continue to blame the weather were actually doing to prepare themselves for the arrival of the BFTE across the previous 3 weeks. I know if I were a shareholder, or an employee potentially facing losing my job because of the poor financial performance, I’d want that and several other questions answered and answered quickly.

No one, least of all myself is suggesting all negative financial impacts from the Beast could have been avoided, but without question they could have been mitigated significantly by companies taking weather risk management far more seriously than they currently do.

We need to get away from the old chestnut of ‘it’s the weather, there’s nothing we can do about it’. YES THERE IS, you can stop blaming it and begin working with it for a start.



Weather and betting markets – Man City v Brighton 2000hrs Wed May 9th

With rain expected both pre and during this one, it should be a straightforward case of us steaming into our normal ‘banker’ markets and informing clients of our moves…..but this is one of those occasions where other factors need added amounts of consideration before we plunge.

Yes we expect our rainfall trigger points to be met, that’s pretty much a given, but the fact this game is effectively a dead rubber does ring a few added alarm bells. OK it could be argued that City can still reach 100pts, setting a new Premiership record and Brighton, although safe, would like to finish what’s been an excellent season overall with heads held even higher by taking a massive scalp.

The big question for us however is will these things be enough to ensure the normal 100% intensity of an EPL game, or will these respective positions just allow for things to ease off ever so slightly and throw even a minor spanner in the works of the normally well oiled engine…it’s a conundrum for sure, but one we will of course solve before 8pm, it’s what we do.




Russians link weather impact to football!

With the football Word Cup approaching fast, it appears the Russians are taking a leaf out of our book and recognising the link between team performance, tactics and weather impact, well at least as far as pin point weather forecasting is concerned.

We’ve been saying it for years and we have the stats to prove all kinds of weather orientated outcomes, but now the Russians with their newly created ‘super computer’ believe they can provide focussed forecasts.  We hope they can, but the REAL benefit to teams will be in the converting match weather to something that is useful… and so far we are pleased to say we are several steps ahead of the Russians!

Go here first -:

Then here -:


World Cup 2018 Russia: Weather

Given the varied and potentially extreme conditions across western Russia in the early Summer, the weather is likely to figure significantly at times during World Cup 2018. We will of course be all over this for our clients, making sure they are able to capitalise on all opportunities the weather provide across a number of markets, but primarily the Outright, Asian Handicap and O/U 2.5 goals.

Looking specifically for now at the group stage for England, two evening games in Volgograd on Jun 18 and Kallingrad on Jun 28 should mean heat isn’t a major issue, but the fact they have 12 and 16 rainy days per month respectively in Jun means weather may well figure in some form or other.

The same probably won’t be the case for their mid afternoon KO in Novgorod on Jun 23rd, where heat has a far greater chance of playing more than a bit part in proceedings. Average max temps here during the 2nd half of Jun are around 23-24c, but highs of over 30c are far from uncommon and record temps of 37c mean the heat could be seriously on if England get unlucky – moreover the fact they are playing Panama, a team well used to both significant heat and humidity, means this one will need close watching as we approach the start of the tournament.

Wondering whether to bet? Then you need weather to bet.