In sport, what does Round Robin mean?

Clincher: Sweden’s Ola Toivonen, centre, scored the winner in injury time against France. Reuters TT NEWS AGENCY  

What is it?

A tournament format in which everyone – individual or team – plays everyone else a stipulated number of times. It may form an event’s league phase, leading into the knockouts, or it may be the competition itself, much as premier football leagues are.

When did it start?

In 1888-89, when the Football League began in England: each of the 12 teams played the other twice. The first citation of ‘round robin’ in a tournament context, however, is said to have occurred in 1895, in the Official Lawn Tennis Bulletin (New York).

What is the term’s origin?

It reportedly appears in a 1730 journal, describing a form of petition in which the complainants signed their names in a circle to disguise who had signed first. This was especially favoured by sailors – mutiny, in those days, was a hanging offence.

What is its rationale?

In theory, it’s the fairest way of determining the champion. Chance plays a smaller role than it does in a knockout event, in which one bad day can spell disaster. The disadvantage of staging a round-robin tournament is the time it takes to complete.

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Printable version | Apr 30, 2021 5:39:51 AM |

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