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Monday, November 21, 2005

[Sport] Crazy Statistics: Rugby Edition

As promised I collected a number of statistics while I watched the All Blacks play England. Unfortunately a few factors hindered my collection:

  • the lack of some kind of recording device (such as a hard drive or DVD recorder) meant that I had to rely on the sporadic replays to catch what the action was
  • the camera angles (such as the sideline tracking shot) made it hard to see things like distances and players (ironically)
  • I forgot to collect them until a few minutes into the game.

So a lot of my stats are commentary-based. I do not have pay television and so have to listen to the mentally impaired Hamish McKay. If it is true that the viewership for free to air rugby is down McKay is almost certainly one of the main reasons.

Much was made pre-game about the clash between All Black prop Carl Hayman and his English opposite Andy Sheridan; but nothing was made of the clash between All Black Tony Woodcock and Englishman Danny Grewcock. Which name is funnier? I think “Grewcock” wins easily myself (hee hee Grewcock).

Sunday Times newspaper rugby correspondent Stephen Jones was his usual inflammatory self calling the English "gallant" and the All Blacks "cheaters". Let’s be honest though, both teams cheated out of their skins. All Black first-five eighths Dan Carter kicked four penalties (he missed one though) and his English opposite Charlie Hodgson kicked five (he also missed one). New Zealand just got caught more often.

On to the Stats

  • The first time the All Blacks performed their haka, Kapa O Pango, was before the second game against South Africa in this year’s Tri-Nations. In that match South Africa scored first but the All Blacks won by four points.

  • The second time the All Blacks performed their haka, Kapa O Pango, was before the game against England in this year’s Grand Slam tour. In that match England scored first but the All Blacks won by four points.

Stephen Jones also criticised the haka:

"New Zealand have now become so impossibly pompous and precious about the whole thing that it is time to end it here and now and to allow their blend of Samoans, Fijians and Pakehas to celebrate Maori culture in some other way."

Naturally he thinks that only Mäori (excuse the poor macronisation) would have a connection to Mäori culture (please feel free to add to this arguement). This is a rugby culture thing. The All Blacks do a haka after the national anthems, so do Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. The English sing Swing Low Sweet Chariots, the Welsh sing Bread of Heaven, and the Aussies sing Waltzing Matilda (for some reason). We have many debates surrounding culture in this country but I think we are all fairly united in the idea that All Blacks do a haka and that’s that.

Oh and if the throat slitting action scares you, Stephen, then maybe you shouldn’t be watching rugby (and definitely don’t go the Kapa Haka champs next year).

  • The All Black team that played against England (including those players subbed into the game) contained: two Fijians; four Samoans who were born in Samoa; four Pacific Islanders who were born in New Zealand; three Mäori and seven Pakeha (or “whities”).

  • Number of times Swing Low Sweet Chariots was heard being sung during the game: 7

  • Number of times Hamish McKay said “Free on Three” during the game: 3

  • Number of ad breaks during the game: 4

  • Number of times ads scrolled along the bottom of the screen during the game: 2

  • Number of puns made by Hamish McKay: 1 (a record low)

  • Number of commentary faux pas made by Hamish McKay during the game: 2

Thirteen minutes into the game a graphic was shown of the handling errors, three by the All Blacks and one by the English. Hamish McKay was heard to remark about the graphic: “Four handling errors so far all from the All Blacks”. Later in the game McKay asked fellow commentator and 55 test veteran Frank Bunce if he had been “involved in any rucks?”

When New Zealand scored to make the game 7-7 McKay spat: “How good are you now England?”

  • The All Blacks got the ball one metre over the goal line, passed, and didn’t score a try.

  • The English gained (roughly) 60 metres with ball in hand, immediately lost 10 metres with ball in hand and then lost possession.

  • New Zealand played for 37.5% of the game with less than 15 men.

Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan said New Zealand were perhaps the two best teams in the world; as it turns out New Zealand are also the best 14-man and 13-man squad as well.

  • When playing with 14 men New Zealand gave up six points. When playing with 13 men New Zealand gave up 0 points.
  • The All Blacks only began scoring once Graham Henry put his glasses on.
  • Indicator that pacific rugby is in trouble: All the island teams lost this weekend including Fiji (9th in the world) who lost 26-17 to Portugal! (15th in the world)
    [Amended] Follow the link to see that the BBC is reporting that
    Portugal won. The result was actually the reverse: Fiji won 26-17.

And lastly just FYI, the international rules of
Rugby require that all players MUST wear underwear.



Eric Dutton said...

When playing with 13 men New Zealand gave up 0 points.

Sorry, its a nice myth but we never actually played with thirteen men. By the time the second yellow was issued, the English had lost their bottle, and instead of using the penalty to kick for the corner and force us to defend the lineout 6 on 8, they took the option of a kick at goal. Immediately after this kick, (which went over, so they did score three points while we were two men down) we got our first man back. So we never actually played with thirteen men.

So far no mention of why the stipendiary authorities have not called for an investigation into the strange actions of the England skipper. There is big money on these games and the idea that score manipulation doesn't happen is no more supportable in rugby than it turned out to be in cricket. Perhaps we should move the RWC to India where the authorities are a bit more in tune with reality.

Anonymous said...

I'm less worried by your macronisation than by your ability to spell argument.

Hadyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hadyn said...


However, if you are worried about my spelling then you should also worry about my macrons (to a similar extent).

But you got me. You see...I ... I...never learned how to read!

It is nice to know that people read my stuff carefully though.