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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

[Sport] Rugby: By the numbers

Once again I bring you exotic statistics from far off lands (Scotland). Well, that is to say I’m here in New Zealand but the stats come from far off lands. The final test of the All Blacks’ end-of-season northern hemisphere tour finally gave us a second Grand Slam and an 11-1 record for 2005. This Grand Slam was a little bigger than the 1978 tour because this year the All Blacks whitewashed the Lions as well.

[Note: this post was supposed to go up yesterday but I was sick, sorry]

This post will be little different to my last one, because this time I was able to see the game twice and on different channels (Sky and TV3). So not only was I able to take actual game statistics (which may not exactly marry with the official ones because it was just me recording them) but also I can do the FIRST EVER cross-commentary comparison.

Right let’s get into it:

Before we got onto the field we had already beaten the Scots at their own game

  • Number of red heads in team: All Blacks 1, Scots 0
  • Number of “Macs” in team: All Blacks 3, Scots 0

However the Scots clawed one back

  • Number of pipers on field for national anthem: New Zealand 0, Scots 162

The Scots ran us close for most of the game. This can be mainly attributed to our handling errors.

Handling Errors


First half

Second half

Total

All Blacks

12

9

21

Scots

2

3

5

By “handling errors” I mean knock-ons and forward passes.

So why did we win? Well let’s have a look at some other numbers.

Turnovers


First half

Second half

Total

All Blacks

1

4

5

Scots

3

3

6


Line-outs won against the throw


First half

Second half

Total

All Blacks

3

2

5

Scots

0

1

1

Scrums won against the feed


First half

Second half

Total

All Blacks

1

0

1

Scots

0

0

0

Line-Breaks


First half

Second half

Total

All Blacks

3

0

3

Scots

2

2

4

I should give some definitions here. By “turnovers” I mean where the ball is taken from the opposition (not through a handling error, kick or penalty) usually at the ruck. By “linebreak” I mean where a player eludes one or more tacklers to make ground; I did not consider a player making ground while in the tackle to be a linebreak.

So we beat them in the lineout. This is actually quite telling considering that the Scots play was mainly kicking to keep the All Blacks in their own territory.

A lot of our runs aren’t counted here either as they were outside runs that never went through tacklers. There were a lot of these that made a lot of ground but were eventually snuffed out by handling errors or tackles.

Was it the penalty count then?

Penalties


First half

Second half

Total

Ruck/Maul

All Blacks

2

5

7

Scots

1

2

3

Offside

All Blacks

1

0

1

Scots

1

0

1

Scrum

All Blacks

1

1

2

Scots

1

0

1

Line-out

All Blacks

1

0

1

Scots

0

1

1

Dissent

All Blacks

1

0

1

Scots

0

0

0

TOTAL

All Blacks

6

7

13

Scots

3

3

6

So we were penalised a lot more than the Scots, especially in the ruck and maul area. This often happens though when the hemispheres “collide”. When the northerners head south they get pinged for offside more often (that’s an observation not a stat) it’s just the nuances of how we play the game.

Despite the large count against us the Scots only kicked two penalty goals (one of which missed wide right). Instead they opted for the lineout (usually in the left corner, when they could reach it), this may have been another stumbling block for them as we saw above the All Blacks seemed to dominate the lineout.

These numbers still don’t give a clear indication of why we won though. These ones do:

Kicks


Number of kicks

Kicks recovered

Kicks not recovered

Kicks charged by opposition

All Blacks

8

3

5

1

Scots

17

1

16

0

I haven’t included any penalty or free kicks and I have also excluded any kicks that went out of bounds (intended or not). By recovered I mean that the kicking team gets the ball back without having to make a tackle or the receiving team committing a penalty.

The Scots only recovery came from a knock on by fullback Isaia Toeava and one of the All Blacks recovered kicks was Rico Gear’s first try.

So basically every time the Scots kicked they lost possession, and they kicked a lot. This tactic is the main reason for the territory stat which didn’t favour the Scots but made the game look closer than it was.

Those are the only numbers I have but here are some more stats.

The only All Black to play in every game of the northern hemisphere tour was Leon MacDonald

Of the current All Black wingers only Doug Howlett has scored less tries than tests he has played in (41 tries in 50 tests). Rico Gear and Joe Rokocoko have even records (Gear is 10-10 and Rokocoko is 30-30). Sitiveni Sivivatu is above average with eight tries in six tests. If Sivivatu keeps up this average he will have scored 67 tries by the time he gets to 50 tests. (David Campese currently holds the world record at 64).

Rico Gear scored the most tries on the tour with five and Dan Carter scored 39 total points. Only two forwards scored tries Sione Lauaki and Keven Mealamu.

On Lauaki’s try the ball passes through 11 sets of hands. The last two sets were James Ryan’s and Lauaki’s (note: the BBC calls him "Lauki"). Ryan never actually held the ball but bobbled it four times before flicking it to an unsuspecting Lauaki who bobbled the ball three times before gaining control and scoring. This was similar to Doug Howlett’s try in the NPC final. A player does not need to have control of the ball just as long as he doesn’t knock it forward into the hands of another player (or the ground).

In the first half the Scots lost 10m with the ball in hand and then gained 15m with a short kick (which was recovered by the All Blacks). At another point the Scots lost 5m with the ball in hand before kicking.

First Five Eighths Nick Evans scored 10 consecutive points.

Last week the All Blacks got a metre inside the goalline, passed and didn’t score. This week the Scots rumbled roughly six men across the line with the ball in hand and didn’t score.

The Television Match Official, C. Berdos (France), who officiated against the Scots attempt over the goalline; could be heard saying to referee N. C. Whitehouse (Wales): “I cannot watch the ball!”

Commentators clash:

While Sky TV’s Murray Mexted is a New Zealand icon for his verbose insertions into the commentary he has a new foe in the mentally impaired Hamish McKay of TV3. Mexted has the advantage in these clashes as he is merely the “colour commentator” and has a very capable “play-by-play” who talks nearly all the time giving only brief periods for Mexted and the sideline commentator to speak.

Over at TV3 McKay has decided that he is both colour and play-by-play and the commentary is filled with large gaps where no one is speaking at all. His assistant is Frank Bunce who is also not immune to the odd lapse in mental capacity.

As such the only thing that Mexted did all game (that was even slightly noteworthy) was to say: “Someone told me earlier [to] beware of the Mighty Jocks!

McKay, however, was on fire.

  • Number of times McKay said “Free on three”: 2
  • Number of ad breaks during “free” rugby: 5
  • Number of puns made by Hamish McKay: 1 (but it was terrible, see below)
  • Number of times McKay got excited enough to use his “growly voice”: 30
  • Number of commentary faux pas made by McKay: 4 (+1 made by Frank Bunce)

McKay was heard to say before the game even started that the Scots would give the All Blacks a “big crack”.

He then, while describing the field, he used the phrase: “it’s rock hard (growly voice) if not a little slippery”. During the game he tried to get Bunce to confirm that hard and slippery were indeed the conditions.

McKay said once and then continued to say that the All Black scrum was “power assunding” the Scottish. He used this phrase on at least two occasions and the words “power” and “asunder” in many similar sentences.

Finally, in what could be another “Man love moment”, as Richie McCaw limped from the field McKay said: “[McCaw’s] got something going on in the leg department”.

The single pun, while not as bad as Sivivatu “kavaing up” the Irish, was about newcomer Isaia Toeava. They said Isaia was the new “Ice Age”. By the way, Isaia was the first teenager to debut for the All Blacks since Jonah Lomu back in 1994.

Frank Bunce was not going to be left behind. He watched as Scottish winger Shaun Lamont ran from his own goalline to be tackled by Tana Umaga on the All Black 22m line: a run of 78m, easily figured out. Bunce said: “What was that? 60m?”

So the tour is over. We outscored our opponents 138-39 over four games. Interestingly the Lions (which is the best of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) scored 40 points against us over three games. And that’s it for rugby until the Super 14.

American Football stats tomorrow if I get a chance to get to it

Mahalo

UPDATE: I have grappled with the html tables and have finally got them under some kind of control. thanks for your patience.


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2 comments:

Hadyn said...

I know the tables look crap I will fix them tomorrow.

Gibbs said...

The reason we get pinged so much for infringing around the ruck is cos we cheat. We are pretty clever though. We tend to only do it in the opposition half or when we have abig enough lead that they have to kick for touch rather than shoot at goal. Then we pinch their line-out. Henry is a pretty crafty b*stard.