The Rugby Site – Stats and Awards – By Graham Jenkins
‘There are three kinds of lies,’ we are told, ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’. The often-used phrase is commonly used to cast doubt over the value of certain figures hailed as significant by others. But you will struggle to convince any modern rugby coach that they have no worth.
It can be difficult to spot a leading coach in the stands these days for the laptops laid out in front of them offering real-time updates on countless aspects of a side’s performance and those of individual players. The Rugby Football Union boast a team of performance analysts working across all the national sides while The British & Irish Lions had three staff dedicated to such analysis on their most recent tour to Australia.
Then there is the increasing influence of statistics on how the sport is presented in the media. Stats oil the wheels of TV coverage with viewers peppered with information before, during and after games, while some pundits gleefully use them to pick apart performances.
Stats may not yet be driving debate in the clubs and pubs, except maybe for headline-grabbing displays like Saracens’ recent six-try haul against Clermont Auvergne on just 32% of possession and flanker Jacques Burger’s epic 27-tackle shift, but perhaps they should?
The sport’s love affair with statistics intensified this week with Premiership Rugby’s announcement of a new end-of-season honour that will reward the best forward in English rugby’s top division based on some key metrics. Premiership Rugby’s stats partner Opta are the driving force behind the award that will take into account tackles made, performance at the breakdown, penalties conceded, line outs won and metres gained with a 12-match minimum ensuring consistency rather than a one-off performance is rewarded.
Some big names made the shortlist – Saracens’ Schalk Brits, Quins’ Nick Easter, Gloucester’s Sione Kalamafoni, Northampton’s Samu Manoa, Sale’s Michael Paterson and Leicester’s Tom Youngs.
Interestingly, Saints powerhouse Manoa is the only member of this group……
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