Stats Attacked

There has been much savaging of the ‘other’ three Southern Hemisphere sides – especially the Wallabies and the Springboks – not least by their own media and fans.

Yesterday I posted some of the impressive stats for the All Blacks. They have now cemented their position as the number one team on the planet with the highest ever ranking points – 96.57 – more than 7 points ahead of England in second place.

One surprising suggestion from a Kiwi pundit is that the ABs are simply being flattered because the opposition is so lamentably weak –


To be fair it is arguably possible for the stats to be interpreted this way –



They finished second in this year’s Rugby Championship, with three wins from six. But looking at the stats, you really wouldn’t know.

Where’s the middle?

The Wallabies come out firing, and they finish strong.

Their margin in the first and last 20 minutes is 50-42, and 30-26 respectively.

But it’s the 20 minutes either side of halfway where the Wallabies completely fall off the burner.

Those margins are 24-45 and 15-34 respectively.

One might deduce, that the starters have plenty of energy early but run out quickly before halftime. Then, when the substitutes come on at 60 minutes, the energy lifts and the points come back.

Missed tackles

Wallabies’ names dominate five of the top six slots for missed tackles in the Rugby Championship.

Bernard Foley is No. 1 with 16, Dane Haylett-Petty No. 2 with 15, Stephen Moore No. 3 with 13, Dean Mumm and South Africa’s Francois de Klerk No. 4 with 12, and Michael Hooper No. 5 with 11.

Not ideal at all. However, take a look at the names.

Foley – first-five. Haylett-Petty – fullback. Michael Hooper – flanker.

These are some of the most crucial positions on the park, arguably the most called upon to make key tackles.

Contrast that with the All Blacks, where Ben Smith missed just two tackles, Beauden Barrett four and Jerome Kaino three.

Metres leaking in litres

The Wallabies give up the most metres per game – 523m on average.

The All Blacks give up just 279m.

Moore trouble with the lineout

The Australian captain has not had a good time with his throwing.

He’s given away 11 lineouts this year. The next worst is Agustin Creevy with only five.

This considering Moore generally walks off the park at the 60 minute mark.

South Africa


South Africa finished the Rugby Championship in third with just two wins. They failed to capitalise on early pressure in a number of matches.

The engine that couldn’t

Like the Wallabies, the Springboks come out firing. They have outscored their opponents four tries to one in the first 20 minutes.

However, in the last 20 minutes, they implode – outscored nine tries to three.

40 points to 19 in the first 20 minutes, 67 points to 37 in the last 20.

Carry less

The Springboks average just 83 carries a game. That’s 40 carries less than the All Blacks.

They also average just 274m per game. 344m less than the All Blacks.

Missed tackles

Forcing missed tackles is the name of the game. The All Blacks do it better than anyone forcing 30 missed tackles a game.

The Springboks, on the other hand, force just 14 missed tackles.


Argentina finished the Rugby Championship with just one win – a valiant effort against South Africa at home.

However, for all their flair and passion, they still fall short of scoring points.

The odd one out

This is bizarre. Have a look at how the Pumas rank in some areas:

– Highest goal kicking percentage (82%)

– Highest carries per game (130)

– Second highest metres per game (472m)

– Second highest clean breaks per game (11)

– Second highest defenders beaten per game (22.3)

– Highest offloads per game (19.2)

– Highest average time in possession (17.12 mins)

So why can’t they win? We’ll try to make sense of it.


When the Pumas don’t have the ball, which isn’t that common according to the stats, they don’t seem to stop the opposition.

They only average 80 tackles a game – 30 less than the All Blacks.

However, their tackling percentage is the lowest at 80 per cent.

Phase play

The Pumas gave up 27 tries in the Rugby Championship this year.

19 of those tries came from three phases or less.

Compare that with all the above information, and you can conclude when teams get the ball against Argentina, they score and score quickly.

They don’t let the Pumas make a number of tackles, they don’t give them time to set.

That may account for why it appears the Pumas are in control in the stats, but not on the scoreboard.

Despite all this ‘evidence’ I maintain that the way the ABs are playing – speed of thought, action and the ability of 1 – 23 to offload at will means it is far more reasonable just to accept that they are light years ahead.

The most sensible suggestion I have seen has come from Eddie Jones who contends that teams have to find their own style rather than try and copy the way the All Blacks play –



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