Goalkicking stats: Splitting the Posts - Green and Gold Rugby
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Goalkicking stats: Splitting the Posts

Goalkicking stats: Splitting the Posts

It’s been one of those mornings. An email comes in from my mate in Singapore, fully twelve hours time difference away. And it’s about goalkicking stats.

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Way back before the season started, in January, I observed that the Tahs’ recruiting policy was a bit strange:

“All in all, the squad is therefore roughly as balanced as last year, which is positive, rather than having holes or imbalances. Where they lose me a bit is in three places.

First, they signed Nick Phipps at 9. Now, McKibbin isn’t a top level 9, and nor is Phipps. So why stack your roster with two kinda alright guys instead of chasing Luke Burgess coming back from France?

Second, we might have about 7 guys in that backline who can kinda kick for goal. But, much like having two 9s of similar style and ability, kicking for goal isn’t an aggregable job. You just need one guy on the field at any one time who’s really good. And we don’t have that on the roster, as far as I can see.

Third, Potgieter is a great, dynamic, contact loving backrower, who can play at lock a bit too. But the smart thing to do would’ve been to sign him predominantly as a backrower and sign another big hulking lock. Maybe someone like Skelton will step up this year and allow Potgieter and Wycliff “treatment table” Palu to share the 8 duties. But maybe not.”

Looking back, I couldn’t agree with myself more. But now my mate was disputing (vehemently) my point about the goalkickers. He was pointing out that using a given set of stats and taking a thirty kick minimum, Bernard Foley came in fifth place for success rate. Pretty decent, he noted, so maybe the Tahs shouldn’t have invested in a kicker in the off season after all. This didn’t sit right with me, especially after watching Foley leave 8 points out on the field against the Blues.

It’s not often that I thank South Africans, but in this case the Nel-Theron system is truly worthy of praise (http://goalkickers.co.za/). It collates a number of variables, including the number of kicks attempted (so some guy kicking only 6 kicks doesn’t have as high a final score as someone kicking 36) and the difficulty of kicks (so Frans Steyn, whose raw success rate is moderate, actually tops the list).

On this table, Bernard Foley comes in nineteenth. Every team has a better kicker than him. Enough said.

The list itself is pretty interesting for other purposes too. Even a casual glance shows that Aaron Cruden, Beaden Barrett, and Tom Taylor are way, way down the list (though still above Foley, naturally). Bodes well for the Bledisloe.

Rugby goal kicker ratings and rankings from http://goalkickers.co.za/

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  • Piggy

    It’s an interesting one for Wallaby selections as well. Our Fullback doesn’t kick, our Wingers don’t kick, our centres don’t kick. Toomua seems to be well down the list of kickers at the Brumbies. You’d think that makes Quade a certainty for the Wallabies 10 jersey.

    • RugbyReg

      very good point. Where Lealiifano ends up on the above table come the end of the month will have a fair say on that as well.

      Of course there’s always the chance White will play above Genia anyway.

      • Piggy

        I can’t see Lealiifano ousting Toomua/Kuridrani/Ashley-Cooper from the Wallabies centres, especially after that groups performance on the end of season tour.

        I think it will at least start as state combos for the French tests – Genia/Cooper more likely than White/Toomua

        • Pedro

          Maybe not but he’s barely come back from more ankle surgery. People forget how good he played in 2012. Nearly got the job Eales medal despite being injured for a third of the season. If he gets close to that form, combined with the great test kicking he’s capable of he’s got a good chance.

        • jay-c

          i doubt anyone who saw it would forget how good lealifano was in 2012… but it was two years ago- at what point do you stop picking on reputation and start picking on form? toomoa, mccabe & beale have all outplayed him this season

        • Wilson

          Yeah hard to start him as it is, though I don’t see him missing the squad and won’t be surprised to see him on the bench

        • Pedro

          He’s barely played at all jay-c. But I agree that you can’t pick on reputation. Which is why I said he needs to regain some of that form. Didn’t really do it last year, maybe he will this year.

        • Stubbsy

          Depends if your name is Genia. Form not reputation? Then why is he more of a certainty to start over White?

        • Braveheart81

          You’ve got to think that the Brumbies will drop Leali’ifano to the bench and bring McCabe back into 12. They’d be crazy not to really. They look a much better side when he’s on the field.

          One issue with Leali’ifano (and also Mike Harris) is that they don’t have a lot of range so they don’t take kicks from outside 40m really. It means that some of the toughest kicks are being given to other kickers which does inflate their kicking percentage a bit compared to kickers who take all kicks or someone like Steyn who only takes really difficult kicks.

          That said, both Leali’ifano and Harris are excellent kickers.

    • Patrick

      Really is, isn’t it?

      The other way of looking at this is that, subject to Lealifano’s form, Genia can only play if QC does but QC and White is no probs.

      I certainly think that nothing else separating QC/Toomua is more important.

      Also, no wonder the Sharks haven’t needed to play rugby to win.

  • Antony

    Going off Foley’s summary on that site, it appears that he really struggles to nail anything over 40m. His accuracy from all angles is pretty decent, but he battles with range.

    In contrast, Cooper’s range is fine (a couple of his kicks are in the region of 50m), but he struggles when it gets out wide. Lealiifano seems to have the worst of both worlds – not slotting many from far out, and struggling from the sideline (that’s based on his stats from last year’s rugby championship).

    I suppose both weaknesses are bad, but I would personally prefer somebody who can occasionally nail one from just under halfway, so that the opposition has to clean up their act over a greater portion of the field.

    • Pedro

      Wasn’t Lealiifano 23 from 28?
      Seems a bit harsh to say his kicking is the worst of both worlds especially as he didn’t miss a kick against the Lions either.

      • Antony

        I’m more going off the scatter map that shows where they were missing them from. “Worst of both worlds” sounds more pejorative than I meant though.

        • Pedro

          Fair enough. Do you have a link to the map?

        • Antony

          http://goalkickers.co.za/ Check out the “Graphics” tab and select different kickers/teams/competitions along the top bar.

    • Patrick

      I would like to see us play more like the South Africans and alternate kickers based on field position. Seems a no-brainer but we never seem to do it.

    • Parker

      That’s Beale for you.

  • Owen

    With the RC approaching, and with White seemingly the best kicker remaining in Australia (and only 9th best in Super Rugby), you really start to miss the world’s best goalkicker (when the kick really matters).

    http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/james-oconnor-is-worlds-best-kicker-under-pressure-study-shows-20140213-32n9t.html

    • Pedro

      It’s funny how those stats pre date CLL’s involvement with the Wallabies.

    • goaussieconference

      Yeah best under pressure… He missed 3 kickable goals during the 1st Lions test which should have been given to Barnes and blamed it on his hamstring later on saying he’s not 100% and all…

      • Owen

        Picking out one statistical anomaly is a terrible way to try and make your point.

    • Phil

      Does that mean the 30% of kicks he missed didn’t matter?I certainly remember him kicking that great conversion from the sideline against AB’s but I still doubt if you can claim to be the best with a 70% success rate.

  • The Rant

    Since when did we rate kickers on anything but Success Rate?
    Here foley’s 77.1% put’s him equal 10th with Woodward.
    You gotta feel a bit for him cos I don’t think he was ever sold or picked as a goalkicker – he’s just proved more reliable than KB (who again is not a ‘goalkicker’) and there’s noone else.
    McKibbon kicked last year – what was his percentage? If better than Foley you have to wonder if Phipps is giving us so much more value.

    • Train Without A Station

      That’s a stupid comment. A kicker could only take the shots from inside 40m and each 15 and never miss one. Doesn’t make him a great kicker.

      • Braveheart81

        The Tahs also turn down lower percentage penalty opportunities because they know they don’t have someone who can kick them reliably (which is a good choice given the situation), but the reality is that if they had an excellent kicker, they’d be taking many more of those shots.

        Foley’s success percentage would be very low if the Tahs were taking every kickable opportunity.

  • Ron

    Burgess is a hack. The waratahs have a Sydney syndrome problem, thinking they are better than the rest Put this team in Adelaide or Darwin and they will be much better.

    • Tao Te Ching

      Burgess kicks for goal?

  • Graeme

    The site doesn’t list the 2013 sup’s, but interestingly in 2012 we had 4 kickers in the top 9, Huxley, McKibben, Mikey Harris and JOC. Beale was also having a good year with 20 out of 23. Foley seems to struggle with anything more than 35-40 meters out and Beale probably should be taking anything beyond the 35, unless McKibben is on.

  • yesmot

    the sharks have 3 of the top 7 and are on top of the ladder. coincidence, i think not…

  • 1rugby0

    Kicking …. my son is playing in a 15D team this season & has missed 1 from 18 conversions – same posts, same ball, same distance. He has kicked from both sides & in front. They don’t take penalty kicks and, sure, at the moment a distance even in front beyond 30m would be a stretch but only for distance not accuracy. Why does Australia have such a problem getting a gun kicker but PLEASE no Quade Cooper.

  • 1rugby0

    By same ball, posts, distance I mean as what Foley does for a conversion. Perhaps he just need to practice especially on the side he has trouble.

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