Renowned rugby statistician Stuart Farmer brings us some interesting snippets of analysis following the third round of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations Championship.
THE TALE OF THE TAPE
Potentially this could be the closest RBS 6 Nations Championship for years with a four-way tie at the top after three rounds, with Ireland ranked ahead of England, Wales and France on points difference.
Looking at the performance stats so far, where have teams gained and lost?
– Scotland has conceded the most penalties (38), while England and Ireland have been penalised the least (25)
– England have run the extra mile in gaining the most metres with 1503, from the most carries (375), and beaten the most defenders with 78
– Italy has made the most tackles but England have missed the most
– France has conceded the most turnovers and Scotland conceded the fewest
– Ireland has thrown the most passes with 452, just eight more than England
– The most proficient lineout is Ireland’s with 45 wins and just 3 losses, while Scotland’s has struggled the most with just 27 wins and 10 lineouts lost
– The Irish are the kings at ruck time winning 284 and losing just 15, while France’s is the worst so far with just 205 rucks won and 15 lost
– France, however, are the top offloaders with 52 and Wales the poorest with 23
And who have been the standout players so far?
– Mike Brown has been the most potent attacking force, making six clean breaks and carrying for 265 metres
– Sergio Parisse has been the ‘go-to’ man in terms of ball carries with 46
– Peter O’Mahony is the ‘prince of the scavengers’, winning seven turnovers for Ireland
– Stuart Hogg has been the top offloader with 11
– Chris Robshaw has made the most tackles with 43
– Courtney Lawes has been the top lineout exponent with 22 lineouts won so far
– Dan Lydiate has been the most accurate tackler in the first three rounds, bringing down 40 opponents without missing a tackle
Of the 121 man-of-the-match awards handed out in the history of the RBS 6 Nations, Gethin Jenkins’ award last Friday at the Millennium Stadium was unique in that he also received a yellow card and actually played for the shortest time in picking up an award – 59 minutes. He also became the oldest Welsh man-of-the-match at 33 years and 96 days, overtaking Martyn Williams.
Duncan Weir’s pivotal drop goal after 79 minutes and 37 seconds against Italy in Rome last Saturday was only the fifth match-winning drop goal in the history of the tournament.
Ronan O’Gara achieved the feat on three occasions – against Wales in 2003 and 2009, and versus Italy in 2011. The other was struck by Andrea Marcato for Italy against Scotland at Stadio Flaminio in 2008.
TRIPLE CROWN – SUCCESS AND FAILURE
England will have the chance of claiming a record 24th Triple Crown when action resumes in the RBS 6 Nations in round four, while Ireland failed in their attempt to secure an 11th Triple Crown with their defeat at Twickenham last Saturday but still, of course, head the table.
It was the second time in recent seasons that Ireland have failed in their bid for a Triple Crown, also losing out to Scotland in 2010 after first beating England and Wales. It was the first time that England had deprived their opponents of the Triple Crown since also outdoing Ireland in the Grand Slam showdown in Dublin in 2003.
England face Wales in their Triple Crown decider in round four – their record in previous Triple Crown-winning opportunities is won 23, drawn 1 and lost 10. It will be England’s third chance for a Triple Crown in the last four years, coming up short in 2011 against Ireland and last season versus Wales.
England have not beaten Wales to take the Triple Crown since 2002. The match will be the 104th match in the history of the Championship for which a Triple Crown is up for grabs, and in eleven of those either side could have taken one. Of the remainder, 53 matches were won, 3 chances were drawn and 36 opportunities were lost.
CLOSING IN ON THE TITLE
Ireland top the RBS 6 Nations table after three rounds, but how often does a team go on to secure the title from this position?
Only three times since the tournament became the Six Nations has the side leading the pack after 60% of the matches being played failed to take the crown, and what is more no side lower than secnd has ever gone on to win the Championship from this position.
In 2005 Ireland led but eventually finished third, while Wales took the crown. The following year England were top but landed up in fourth spot to complete the largest fall from grace and become the only side ever to start with two wins and follow it up with three losses.
Last year England led after round three but of course lost out to eventual champions Wales in the final match of the Championship.
Interestingly, Wales won last season’s RBS 6 Nations after sitting in fifth spot after the opening round, the lowest position any side has come from to become champions.
PERFORMANCE BY ROUND
The below list looks at the number of wins gained per round by country since the inception of the RBS 6 Nations in 2000. From it you will see that performance in all the round five matches are much more even than in previous rounds.
Looking at Ireland, their best round historically is round three where they have secured 13 victories, however in round five they have won just five times. Scotland have their best round in the final encounters of the season, gaining seven of their 19 total wins at that stage.
Italy have never managed a single victory in a round two encounter, while Scotland have got a campaign off to a winning start just once before: beating France at Murrayfield in 2006.
WINS OBTAINED PER ROUND (2000-2014) –
ROUND 1: IRELAND (12), England (12), France (11), Wales (6), Italy (3), Scotland (1)
ROUND 2: England (13), France (11), IRELAND (7), Wales (9), Scotland (3), Italy (0)
ROUND 3: IRELAND (13), France (9), England (7), Wales (7), Scotland (6), Italy (3)
ROUND 4: IRELAND (10), England (10), Wales (8), France (7), Italy (2), Scotland (2)
ROUND 5: France (11), Wales (9), England (7), Scotland (7), IRELAND (5), Italy (3)
Plotting tries scored per round we discover that round four historically has the fewest tries scored with 156, with Scotland scoring just nine round four tries in the 14 years so far. However, when it comes to the last round France, Italy and Scotland all achieve their best try-scoring totals at this stage.
TRIES SCORED PER ROUND (2000-2014) –
ROUND 1: England (52), IRELAND (41), France (41), Wales (28), Italy (17), Scotland (13)
ROUND 2: England (45), IRELAND (43), France (33), Wales (33), Scotland (21), Italy (13)
ROUND 3: IRELAND (42), Wales (30), England (29), France (27), Italy (18), Scotland (15)
ROUND 4: England (38), France (37), Wales (29), IRELAND (24), Italy (19), Scotland (9)
ROUND 5: France (43), England (41), IRELAND (28), Wales (26), Scotland (25), Italy (20)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)