It’s all in the numbers!  Ireland will beat France in the Rugby World Cup next Sunday, a top mathematician has claimed.

Using ‘Poisson Theory’*, Steve Humble of Newcastle University has predicted two possible outcomes to the RWC match, both suggesting a win for Ireland.  The outcome will either be very close at 18-15 to Ireland or 26-18 if Ireland manage to break away during the crucial Pool D finale.

Also known worldwide as ‘Dr. Maths’, Humble will be in Ireland next week for Maths Week Ireland, the all-Island festival of maths and numeracy.  Kicking off on October 10th and running until October 18th, the week-long celebration will include a host of fun and exciting activities for children, parents, teachers, maths enthusiasts and people everywhere.

DR_MATHSSteve Humble said, “Predictions about how many points could be scored in a match can be created by using the work of the 19th century mathematician, Simeon Poisson, who published his theory in 1837. The theory allows you to predict events that at first glance seem to be random or have little pattern. It is used, for example, to help work out how many staff will be needed to work in a call centre at particular times in the day, or similarly to predict the size of queues at supermarkets checkouts.”

“Maths can’t say absolutely for certain what the future will be but it can suggest possible outcomes that could occur, giving the probability that these may happen.”

“Rugby is harder to predict due to the great range of possible scores and of course it all depends on how the Boys in Green perform on the day,  but the mathematical indicators are that Ireland will beat France in the RWC on Sunday,” said Humble.

Maths Week is celebrating a decade of maths engagement with people all over the island.

World renowned and locally acclaimed mathematicians will enlighten and entertain people of all ages in the wonder of maths through fun and interesting talks, games, teasers, challenges and magic maths shows. And, for those who can’t make it to an event, activities will also be available on and Twitter at @mathsweek.

This year, Maths Week is calling on people to share how they use maths in their jobs and in their everyday lives. Take part by using #iUSEMATHS on Twitter.

Maths week tweetFrom doing the weekly shopping to calculating mileage, baking recipes to computer coding, maths is all around us.  The aim of the #iUSEMATHS conversation is to encourage adults and children to understand that maths is an important life skill, and not just relevant to people with careers in science, engineering or technology.

The all-Island event is run in conjunction with partners including Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills, universities, institutes of technology, teacher training colleges, visitor centres, other groups and employers both North and South.

*For the rugby prediction you need Ireland’s past record against France and the record they have in past championships against other teams. From this you can calculate the Poisson distribution with parameter ? > 0, if, for k = 0, 1, 2, …, the probability mass function of is given by:


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