Schoolboy error in checking the accuracy of a table


An eagle-eyed colleague of mine spotted a couple of mistakes in this table, published on the BBC Sports website today.

RBS 6 Nations

Across a championship like the RBS 6 Nations in which every team plays the other, the total of all the “Points For” (F) across all the teams must be equal to the total of all the “Points Against” (A), and the total of the “Points Difference” (Diff) for all teams must therefore be zero.

The person responsible for producing this table clearly did not perform these basic checks of arithmetic, because the “Points Against” (A) total is 3 points lower than “Points For” (F) total and the “Points Difference” (Diff) column adds up to 3. It turns out the table has understated the “Points Against” (A) totals of Scotland by 2 points and France by 1 point.

It is very important that this discipline of checking the addition of all columns is performed when we deliver MI to managers and executives, because mistakes like this can undermine the reader’s confidence in the integrity of all the numbers.

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