England coach Eddie Jones believes rugby has a major problem on its hands.
While the record for the most number of tries scored in international rugby is probably safe for the time being, the number two spot is potentially up for grabs as part of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The number one spot is held by Daisuke Ohata, who scored 69 tries for Japan in 58 Tests between 1996 and 2006. The number two spot is held by David Campese, who scored 64 tries for Australia in 101 Tests between 1982 and 1996.
It should be noted that some controversy exists over Ohata’s record, as unlike Campese, only around a quarter of Ohata’s tries have come against major rugby-playing nations. Nevertheless, Ohata still holds the record.
So, what’s up for grabs in the 2015 Rugby World Cup?
Brian Habana of South Africa was on 60 tries before the World Cup started, and is now on 61 after scoring against Samoa. With two matches remaining in the pool rounds, including one against the USA, and given South Africa is likely to progress beyond the pool stages, it seems Campese’s record is in jeopardy.
Prior to this year’s tournament, Frenchmen Vincent Clerc, who while still playing is not at this World Cup, was ranked 19th overall, with 34 tries in 67 Tests. Players attending in 2015 who have scored more than 30 tries are Australia’s Adam Ashley-Cooper (33) and Drew Mitchell (30), the All Blacks’ Julian Savea (32), and Ireland’s Tommy Bowe (30).
At this point of the competition, Savea is now on 37, after scoring two tries against Namibia and three tries against Georgia, Drew Mitchell is now on 32, after scoring two tries against Uruguay, and Tommy Bowe is on 32, after scoring two tries against Romania. Ashley-Cooper remains on 33.
They are all a long way from Japan’s Hirotoki Onozawa, who is also still playing but not at this World Cup, and who is ranked number five overall on 55 tries. However Savea has now equalled Jonah Lomu’s rank of 16th, and is likely to surpass Joost van der Westhuizen and Serge Blanco, tied at 14th with 38 tries, and Chris Latham who is ranked 13th with 40 tries.
A possible target for the 30-something club is to make the top 10, which means catching Christian Cullen and Joe Rokocoko, jointly ranked ninth with 46 tries. The bookies seem to think Savea’s the best bet, as they are offering odds of 5/6 for him to be the top try-scorer of this World Cup. And based on form to date, that seems a reasonable bet.
(This was written before the Australian versus England game, so hopefully Ashley-Cooper will completely ruin these figures and score a surfeit of tries.)