Bordeaux produced a miraculous victory in Round 9 of the Top 14 with a late meat pie to Louis Bielle-Biarrey after a try-line gaffe…
With the end of year tour upon us, I will be gathering stats to build a picture of the nations, with a focus on the Rugby Championship and Six Nation teams.
I will combine statistics together to show how teams do different things. For example, does it matter how many times a team kicks the ball if we don’t know how often they run with it, or pass it? Should teams kick points, or go to the corner? To the casual fan it is a simple choice between seven or three points, but if a team has a terrible maul, maybe the three points is the best choice.
We often hear that some teams adapt but others just play their normal game, but I want to see the little things that change game to game.
My goal is to look at the main teams for the next World Cup and see if there are little things that fans can take hope from or use to justify their dislike of certain tactics.
Without having looked at the numbers, any team playing the Springboks should focus on passes and kicks rather than runs unless you have a good attacking ruck. South Africa are going to kick you 40 metres down the field once they get the ball, unless it’s in the opposing 22. They are a hard team to keep the ball against because of their breakdown work, so you want to try and keep the ball away from them.
On the other hand, if a team was playing New Zealand, I would expect them to have a lot of ball kicked to them. This goes against tradition, as most would expect the All Blacks to want more ball and would be suicide for whatever team does it. But the Kiwis are generally easier to get the ball back from and are less likely to kick the ball away.
There will be four main areas I will look at for each team.
1. Ball in hand
When players get the ball, do they run, pass or kick? Does this change much each game and do they keep any of them as a constant. Do they always choose between kicking and passing or does running change at all?
2. Game restarts
This is not kick-offs or 22 dropouts, but phase restarts. I will most likely be including rucks, lineouts, and scrums. How often do teams maul their lineouts, or do they run it? Do we have non-mauling teams or do most teams maul a similar percentage of lineouts? Do some teams have a lot more total rucks in a game, compared to other teams when they play? I would guess that Argentina and South Africa had less rucks per game than New Zealand and Australia.
3. Contact with the opposition
Rugby is a contact game, but does your team avoid it or seek it? How many attempted tackles does it take your team to have a ruck? How many rucks can your team have before they get or give away a turnover? You would expect South Africa to have a much bigger difference between them winning a turnover and losing a turnover. If that is the case, the more rucks in a game the better for them. If your team makes a lot of tackle attempts to make the opposition form a ruck, what are they doing wrong?
4. Running success
When teams run, what are they actually doing with it? Four metres per run is seen as the goal with ball in hand, so which teams get this or give it away? How many runs need to be made to make a line break and how many players are being beaten per line run? Which side of the ball does your team look good? If Australia are great attacking and poor defending, then they may need to look to be more possession orientated.
No two sites are the same for counting so I will do the best I can to get all the details from the same place.
Do you put value in stats or are they irrelevant to how teams play?