6N 2015 – Spoiler alert

Ireland’s 19-9 victory over England in the Six Nations provoked many effusive and merited reviews, but it came despite Ireland’s lowest winning possession efficiency figure (0.32) in Six Nations matches since the 2011 World Cup. Ireland’s previous lowest winning efficiency rating in that period was 0.42 against France in the match that gave them the 2014 title, and they have lost and drawn a Six Nations match with higher efficiency ratings over the last three seasons, so exactly what happened in Dublin this year? Continue reading

6N 2015 – THE comeback

A year ago at Twickenham, penalties earned at rucks kept Wales in a 2014 Six Nations match England were otherwise running away with. On that occasion, England managed to use a strong start to complete a 29-18 win. A year later at the Millennium Stadium and Wales were once again making good use of their ruck work, but this time to help build a promising 16-8 first-half lead. So what went so wrong in the second half? Continue reading

Autumn’s mauling masterclasses

Just before the 2015 Six Nations gets started, tGL decided to take a look back at the 2014 Autumn Internationals, specifically some of the mauling play on show in the England vs South Africa, and Ireland vs South Africa matches, and wonder whether we might see similar play in the Six Nations. Mauls originally belonged to an older style of rugby, one that resembled the big shoving contests of the sport’s earliest days when every attacking player’s job was to either push the maul forward or, if the ball escaped, secure possession and hold on until another maul formed. Mauls are associated with slow, boring and old-fashioned rugby, so why have they become a modern attacking weapon? Continue reading

TRC 2013 – Out of the shadows

Ahead of New Zealand’s 2013 Rugby Championship home clash with South Africa, the Springboks had emerged as a genuine threat to the All Blacks’ supremacy – outscoring the world champions and topping the competition table after three rounds – and went to Eden Park sensing a real chance of a rare victory, especially given the All Blacks would be without injured captain Richie McCaw, but New Zealand didn’t need to panic, they had Kieran Read ready to step out of the shadows… Continue reading

TRC 2013 – Can the Springboks take Eden Park?

Since they became world champions in 2011 and Steve Hansen took on the job as head coach, New Zealand have played 20 Test matches with an outstanding 90% win average. If that statistic isn’t impressive enough, they’ve put their wins together with an average 20-point winning margin while giving 16 Test debuts. Only Australia, who managed an 18-18 draw in Brisbane, and England, with a surprise 38-21 win at Twickenham, have spoiled an otherwise perfect record, but in 2013 South Africa have emerged as a threat to the All Blacks. In the Rugby Championship the Springboks have outscored them and sit at the
top of the table after three rounds, but New Zealand in Auckland in round four is the real test of their credentials – so how do the visitors step up from pretenders to victors? Continue reading

TRC 2013 – Down Under Pressure

At the end of round two of the 2013 Rugby Championship tGL revisited the possession efficiency metric we first investigated at the beginning of the year; a measure of how well a team coverts its percentage of possession into points and how that affects match results. We considered the major annual international tournaments, the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, in the period since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and the most notable finding was that Australia were one of the highest accumulators of possession, but were also one of the worst convertors of the 10 Test teams involved. The Wallabies’ round-three 38-12 home defeat against South Africa presented evidence why. Continue reading

Efficiency NOT an ugly word

Back at the start of this year during the Six Nations, tGL started looking at a new metric called ‘possession efficiency’ which quantified how well a team was turning its possession/territory percentages into points, and the dominant effect that factor had on match results. The opening round of the 2013 Rugby Championship supplied a pair of extremely efficient performances from New Zealand and South Africa and inspired tGL to revisit this interesting and significant statistic. Continue reading