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You're All Wrong - RNE Tie-Breaker Author

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You're All Wrong - RNE Tie-Breaker Author

Some more on the developments have arisen surrounding the Rugby Northeast tiebreaker issue.

First of all, according to one source, Providence College has apparently decided not to appeal USA Rugby's ruling that Bentley and Southern Connecticut won the RNE tiebreaker. This may change, but time is running out and it appears Providence College will not appeal.

Second - the person who wrote Rugby Northeast's tiebreaker policy said we all got it wrong. According to Chip Auscavitch, who wrote the Rugby Northeast tiebreaker policies, the concept of eliminating a team in a three-way tie hinged on the word "if." 

Meaning ... when you get to a three-way tie and you have to got to the level of measuring the points difference among the three teams, IF you can eliminate a team from that trio, then you do so, and use a higher-level tiebreaker for the other two.

But IF, said Auscavitch means IF two teams remain tied and one is not, then you separate out that third.

For example, if Bentley had sported a points difference of #20, and SoConn and Providence both -10, then Bentley would have been separated out as the top team, the other two would remain tied. Thus you'd have to go back to head-to-head to decide between those two.

However, the actual numbers - Bentley +17, SoConn -7, Providence -10 - were all different and therefore should have been how the standings ended up - Bentley 1st, SoConn 2nd, Providence 3rd, with no need for extra tiebreakers to be used.

So according to Auscavitch's original intent, Bentley should be the conference champion (that's who Goff Rugby Report said was the champion earlier this week before we found out that may not necessarily be the case). 

Here is Auscavitch's explanation (bold and italics added by GRR for emphasis):

Bentley, Providence, and Southern CT all finished 7-1 within their conference this season, and by record alone were tied for first place. Please keep in mind that these tie-breaker rules are used to break ties no matter what place in the standings that teams are tied. If 3 teams were tied for 6th place with a 2-5 record, these rules would be used for that as well.

The first tie-breaker in a 3-way tie situation is W-L-T record against the other tied teams. Since all 3 teams finished 1-1 against each other as is typical in a 3-way tie, the next tie-breaker used is total net points in games involving only the tied teams. The final total net points was as follows; 

Bentley:        +17

Southern CT:      -7

Providence:        -10

The total net points tie-breaker alone is the final tie-breaker. The rules state that “if a team is eliminated”, which isn’t always the case. In this case no team was eliminated from the equation because they all had different +/- totals. Bentley finishes 1st, and Southern CT finishes 2nd.

Below are two examples where a team would’ve been eliminated from the equation;


Scenario 1                    Scenario 2

Bentley:        +14            1)   Bentley:          +7

Southern CT:       -7            2)   Southern CT:      +7

Providence:           -7            3)   Providence:        -14


In Scenario 1, Bentley wins the tie-breaker, finishes first, and is eliminated from the equation because the other two teams remained tied. Who advances between Southern CT and Providence goes back to the 2-way tie-breaker, which is head-to-head.

In Scenario 2, Providence is eliminated from the equation because the other two teams remained tied, and finishes 3rd. Who finishes ahead between Bentley and Southern CT goes back to the 2-way tie-breaker, which is head-to-head.

The reason you can’t simply eliminate the lowest team is for the exact situation that played out this season. Looking at the +/- prior to the final week of the season where Bentley played Providence, we had the following total net points;

Providence:        +16, but hadn’t played Bentley yet

Southern CT:       -7

Bentley:           -9, but hadn’t played Providence yet

If we “eliminate” the 3rd place team after all teams play each other, Bentley would’ve been better off winning by less than the 26 points they won by. For example, if Bentley won by 10 points instead;

Providence:        +6

Bentley:        +1

Southern CT:     -7

If you eliminate the bottom team, Southern CT would be eliminated in this example, and Bentley would’ve been the champion because they defeated Providence head-to-head. I can’t imagine a situation where a team needs to win, but not by too much, or they’ll be penalized. Bentley essentially needed to beat providence by 3 or more points, but by no more than 23 in order to finish first based on Southern CT’s and USA Rugby’s misinterpretation of the rule. By winning by more than 23 points they finished 2nd. 


See also: RNE Tiebreaker Snafu Highlights Need for Clarity