LSE & Sports: Are We Any Good?

LSE & Sports: Are We Any Good?

A quick glance at the the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) website for all-time results will reveal that the London School of Economics (LSE) is safely placed behind Loughborough University in the dropdown filter for institutions — how fitting to have two giants of UK university sport right next to each other? However, there remains one question left as-yet unanswered: how does LSE rank against other universities? Fortunately, a dataset containing all fixtures from 2011–2019 in which LSE has featured has been made available and will provide the fuel for the myth-busting journey on which we are about to embark. Have you ever wondered which university LSE has played, won, drawn, or lost against the most; or how LSE’s record has evolved over the years; or if LSE is better than UCL, King’s, or Imperial? If yes, buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

Right off the bat, there is good news to share: LSE has won more games than it has lost—but not by much. Indeed, LSE’s 2161 wins out of 4423 games played, leaves it with a win percentage of 48.86%, falling just below the 50% mark.

I’m sure you are wondering: did I have a positive impact on LSE’s performance during my time there? Judging by the win percentage, LSE reached its zenith between 2015–2017, hitting well above 50 in both seasons, before falling short of that mark in subsequent seasons. Interestingly, Lacrosse went from having the highest win percentage across all sports in 2015/16 to having the lowest in 2016/17 — the General Course effect?

A deep-dive into performances across sports at LSE will be the next constituent part of this series. But for now, let’s focus on our collective triumphs (and failures); what better way to do so than to analyse performances against our archrivals?

Those at LSE will be well-acquainted with our various nemeses off the pitch—UCL, King’s, and Imperial — but how do we fare on it? While the academic battle consists of pointing at rankings and entry requirements, Wednesday afternoons permit an athletic battle, where we can let our feet (or arms) do the talking. However, with a losing head-to-head record against UCL and King’s, let’s just stick to academic rankings, shall we?

LSE and UCL have battled it out a total of 461 times, with our neighbours coming out on top in 225 games. Nevertheless, LSE has won more games against Imperial than it has lost, yet 96 losses against Royal Holloway are a painful reminder of LSE’s somewhat average head-to-head record. Incidentally, LSE teams have not only lost 96 times to Royal Holloway but have also played at their ground a total of 96 times, having to make their way on a tortuous—and indeed, an unsuccessful— expedition to Egham, sacred home also to the LUSL Cup. Among our top 10 most played teams, LSE has the highest win percentage against the University of Essex with 61.1%, a fine feat which can be dramatically contrasted by a harrowing historic record against King’s GKT against whom LSE maintains a win percentage of only 31.9% —who knew dissecting the weaknesses of LSE teams was part of their medical school curriculum?

When considering LSE’s win percentage not only against the top 10 most played teams but against all opponents, King’s GKT remains the toughest team to beat, alongside Reading and East London. On the upside, LSE clearly fairs well against the Arts, with a win percentage of around 70% against UAL and Goldsmiths. Perhaps, their creative movements and plays are,  as Martin Tyler would put it , “. . . the right idea, just not the right execution.”

Indeed, LSE has won more games than it has lost, but the poor head-to-head records against rivals such as King’s and UCL certainly do not proliferate our bragging rights. Perhaps this is not all too distressing for LSE students; a comparison of performances across sports might well be more fascinating than one across universities. Having considered LSE’s overall accomplishments in this article, the next one in this series will explore the intra-LSE bragging rights : which sports drag LSE down and which lift it up.

Have you ever wondered which university LSE has played, won, drawn, or lost against the most; or how LSE’s record has evolved over the years; or if LSE is better than UCL, King’s, or Imperial? If yes, buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

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