Spiro remains the greatest reporter on Rugby we’ve got. Great to see him also embracing stats and data. Amazing shifts going on in the game:
Real rugby has been documented by the IRB (which is pushing this vision hard, thankfully) in its recently published statistical and match analysis of this year’s Tri Nations tournament. Some of the statistics compare what is happening now on the field with the game in the 1980s. The findings provide the evidence that ”rugby football” has evolved into ”rugby”. The ball is now in play 50 per cent longer. Rucks and mauls are up 400 per cent. Passing is up 400 per cent. Kicks each game are down 50 per cent, with the Wallabies averaging only 15 a match. Scrums are down 50 per cent, to an average of 14 a match. Lineouts are down 58 per cent from 52 to 22.
With the ruck and maul now being refereed to give the runner all the placing rights, teams are retaining the ball for longer periods of play. One consequence of this more handling and more ball-in-play game is that 57 tries were scored in this year’s Tri Nations compared with 27 last year. We saw the impact of these changes in the approach of Wales, England and Ireland towards the end of their Tests as they tried desperately to score enough points through tries, not penalties, to snatch unlikely victories.
Incredibly frustrating to see the Mealamu facing a disciplinary hearing and yet nothing for the English. Spiro points this out well:
French referee Romain Poite (but not the Australian assistant referee Stu Dickinson) officiated like an intimidated man in the England-New Zealand Test. England got penalties for collapsing the scrum on their own feed. Dylan Hartley’s ”try” involved two obvious breaches of the laws. It is astonishing, too, that Hartley, a serial offender, wasn’t sin-binned and then cited for his intentional elbow into the head of Richie McCaw.