Dingo Deans’ Wallabies stats (pt 1)
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Is it the end of the line for Robbie Deans?
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With the inaugural Rugby Championship dawning upon us, it is time to make some serious assertions about Robbie Deans’ tenure as Wallabies coach.
Many Wallabies fans are calling for an end to the Deans era, especially with Ewen McKenzie waiting in the wings.
Since taking over the reins in 2008, Deans has failed to deliver a Bledisloe Cup, which was expected by many.
Many of us also expected him to win last year’s World Cup.
The fact that Deans finally delivered a Tri-Nations title, for the first time in ten years, is little compensation for success-starved fans.
So what else has Deans actually achieved in this time? Does whitewashing the Grand Slam-winning Welsh count?
For many, strangely it does not.
What I hear is that we want to see more wins and we want to see more tries and Deans is not giving us enough of either.
So let’s delve deeper. If we look at his overall record, his win ratio stands at 62%.
In this edition, I’m going to look at this win ratio.
If we compare these numbers with his predecessors and other nations, we may be able to gauge whether this is a good or bad result.
If we compare Deans 62% overall win ratio with the Wallabies overall record of 52% we could suggest that Deans is doing relatively well. But we really need to look at win percentages in the modern age to make a better judgement. If we compare his 62% win ratio to the four years preceding his tenure, i.e. the 2004-2007 period, we see that the Wallabies had a win ratio of 59% during this period.
So he has made a slight improvement in winning matches at least.
To put both of these statistics in perspective, we continue to go back in time. If we use each four-year period between each professional World Cup we can make vital comparisons, because each period has a rebuilding phase and ends in relatively tight rugby in the pursuit of World Cup glory. The 2000-2003 period saw a 64% win ratio and, in the 1996-1999 period we see an historic 74% win ratio for the Wallabies.
If we continue to look back, to the amateur period, we see win ratios fluctuating between 73% during the 1992-1995 period, 63% in the 1988-1991 period and 70% in the 1984-1987 period.
If we make a comparison with the Mark Ella-era of 1980 to 1984, we’ll see another Deans failing in comparison. Or do we? Whoops, no, in that period the Wallabies only won 58% of tests.
So Deans’ win ratio is nothing special, but it’s also not an absolute disaster as some suggest. High profile losses to Samoa and Scotland have not helped his cause of course, despite that for two of these matches the side that ran out was full of second string players.
Maybe a better way to make judgement on Deans’ performance to date would be to compare his win ratios against New Zealand and South Africa in comparison to other periods.
If we start with South Africa we see something quite remarkable. Deans’ 2008-2011 period has been the single most successful period against South Africa in Wallaby history.
Deans’ Wallabies have lost only four of the 12 fixtures during his reign against the Springboks, which puts his win ratio against them at an incredible 67%. I say incredible because that is a better return against them than even the mighty All Blacks, who in the same period have only managed a 55% win percentage against the Boks.
If we go back in time again, our overall win ratio against the ‘Boks’ has been 42%. If we look at the entire period of the Tri-Nations, the Wallabies had only managed a 47% win ratio against the Springboks before Deans took over.
Therefore, Deans’ performance against the Springboks has arguably been his strongest and most unsung success.
So perhaps Deans has been making headway after all? Well, not when you look at our record against New Zealand.
Against the All Blacks, Deans has a very poor win ratio in comparison. It currently stands at 20%, which is actually 2% less than the previous four years and arguably why this upcoming Bledisloe is so important for Robbie Deans.
Historically of course, the Wallabies have a poor win ratio against the All Blacks. Australia’s overall record against them stands at a tick under 30% of wins. But since the game has gone professional, the Wallabies have a 33% win ratio against New Zealand.
Before that, in the sixteen-year period from 1980 to 1995, it was a higher 38%. This is what we really want to see. But even Deans must know that Australian rugby fans won’t be satisfied until we are consistently winning at-least 51% of matches against the World Champions.
We may never see that happen again. It once happened during a small period either side of the new millennium, and considering New Zealand’s dominance, we know it is unrealistic. But we can sure aim for it.
It is worth noting that Deans’ combined win ratio of 40% against New Zealand and South Africa is almost exactly the same as the overall Wallaby record of 41% across the sixteen year Tri-Nations period against these two rugby heavy weights.
It must be said that Deans’ 40% win ratio is a lot higher than the four years preceding his tenure. In this period, it was 31.5%.
Deans also has a 71% win record combined against France and the Home nations. This is 5% better than both the Wallabies overall test record against these sides (66%)and the Wallabies record against them since the game went professional (also 66%).
As the famous Lord Courtney once argued, ‘statistics are figures the simplest must understand and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.’
These statistics show that Robbie Deans has thus performed a lot better with our beloved Wallabies than most perceive.
However 2012 is the year to win back the Bledisloe, otherwise it will surely be time for a new coach.
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