Spring Tour - Wallaby Forwards - What do the stats tell us? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Spring Tour – Wallaby Forwards – What do the stats tell us?

Spring Tour – Wallaby Forwards – What do the stats tell us?

There’s been a heap of discussion on all forums about the Wallaby Forward pack and especially performance at scrums. But what about other aspects of their game? The poster known as ForceFan on our Forum has done some excellent analysis of his self-compiled stats.

Recognising that it’s difficult to get reliable rugby stats, and frustrated by nothing being available on Ruck stats, and having some time on his hands, he decided to gather some ruck stats of his own.

So who was working hard for the Wallabies and actually making an impact in this important aspect of the game.

The following data was gathered from watching replays of each Test and compiling data for all Tests played. Ranking is from highest to lowest in each category.

Total Rucks 1

Notes:

  1. Average rucks have been normalised as if each player played for the full 80 minutes. In reality only Hooper and McCalman achieved this feat. Simmons x 2 and Carter x 1. As the front row, in particular are usually flagging, this normalised number probably boosts what they would have achieved.
  2. Early to ruck means 1st or 2nd after the tackler. This data is not normalised but from actual rucks.
  3. Impact at ruck means active engagement, strong physical contact, changed shape of ruck, clean-out, etc. (more than hand on someone’s bum or playing statues.) Impact doesn’t mean that the player was “menacing” at the ruck. This data is also from actual rucks made.

Discussion

Total Rucks

  • In the last Test against South Africa the Wallabies engaged 61% of rucks in Defence.
  • In the last Tests against Argentina and New Zealand the Wallabies engaged90% of rucks in Defence.
  • Over the 4 Tests on the Spring Tour the Wallabies reduced the engagement on rucks in Defence from 70% against Wales, 60% against France, 55%against Ireland, down to a low of 40% against England. The average engagement of rucks in Defence was 60%.

Summary

  1. Carter and McMahon are our best rucking Forwards.
  2. Hooper and Fianga’a a step below.
  3. Slipper, Simmons and McCalman another step below.
  4. Kepu is clearly our worst rucking Forward.

Individual Performance

  • McMahon makes lots of rucks, arrives early and has reasonable impact.
  • Carter is not far behind McMahon in total rucks, similar timing and the highest impact. Carter often makes the initial cleanout.
  • Hooper makes the most rucks but with average early engagement and one of the lowest impacts.
  • Fainga’a was one of the workhorses at rucks; often using his good technique to drastically change the shape of the ruck.
  • Slipper works in much the same way as Fainga’a but with slightly less impact.
  • Simmons makes lots of rucks early as a blocker/protector without making much impact.
  • McCalman made fewer rucks but appeared to pick his time of arrival to make impact when needed.
  • Kepu makes lots of rucks but is generally a late arrival and most often just filling space and playing statues to one side. He rarely “hits” a ruck and is more into leaning or pushing.

Others??

  • Horwill (145 mins inc Barbs): 81 rucks (Attack 61; Defence 20) – early 72%/impact 74%.
  • Alexander (116 mins inc Barbs): 56 rucks (Attack 44; Defence 12) – 82%early/impact 71%.
  • Hodgson (98 mins inc Barbs): 70 rucks (Attack 47; Defence 23) – early 90%/impact 79%.
  • Skelton (95 mins): 49 rucks (Attack 37; Defence 12) – early 76%/impact 76%.
  • Robinson (94 mins inc Barbs): 33 rucks (Attack 29; Defence 4) – early 73%/impact
  • Jones (93 mins): 35 rucks (Attack 33; Defence 2) – early 83%/ impact 77%.
  • Hanson (79 mins inc Barbs): 37 rucks (Attack 26; Defence 11) – 89%early/impact 54%.
  • Schatz (27 mins): 12 rucks (Attack 11; Defence 1) – early 83%/impact 50%.

Ruck Involvement by Backs

  • Against Wales: Leali’ifano – 22, Kurudrani – 22, Tomane – 18 and Foley – 13.
  • Average over 4 Tests: Toomua – 17 (2 Tests only); AAC – 12; Foley – 10

Some stats from ESPN Scrum.

How do these compare against Super XV 2014 performance for each player?

tackles

GREEN = Better than Super XV performance.
BLUE = Same as Super XV performance.
RED = Below Super XV performance.

Tackles

  • Both Hooper and Kepu tackled well above their Super XV averages (3 more tackles/game and 3% more effective).
  • Faingaa‘s tackling 12% more effective
  • Slipper‘s tackling 4% more effective.
  • McCalman averaged 3 less tackles/game.
  • McMahon, Carter and Simmons significantly down in tackles and efficiency.

Ball Carries

  • McCalman, McMahon and Simmons maintained their Super XV performance.
  • Hooper seemed well covered by the opposition. Hooper normally averages 35m/game in Super XV.
  • Other Forwards made <50% of their normal carry m.

Penalties Conceded

  • McMahon (nearly x 3), Slipper (nearly x 2) and Hooper (nearly x 2) conceded more penalties.
  • Fainga’a, Simmons and McCalman conceded far less penalties.
  • Jones conceded 5 penalties in 93 minutes.
  • Hodgson, considered a penalty magnet by some, conceded no penalties and made a turnover in each of his 3 appearances (13 mins, 11 mins & 74 mins).

So what do you think, GAGRs? How do you interpret ForceFan’s stats?

  • Sape

    Im speechless, i thought “im making my own stats” was just an urban legend, big cheers for ForceFan, thank you.

    Did i understand this right, even if you are first at the ruck and only bridge over the ball, you are considered “not making impact”? Obviously being there before opposition benefits the team.

    Carter sure looks better statswise than with only watching games. Hooper hits alot of rucks but considering his pace, he should be hitting them more early which for example McMahon is doing.

    • tah fan

      I think you’ll find that some people have different roles for the wallabies as opposed to playing s15. Sometimes you might be a fit ball of energy and have a huge pack who will demolish rucks for you while you make carries, be a linkman between forwards and back or some people may think you only play with your hair. A guy who is similar to you, however in a different team might spend more time hitting rucks and doing it effectively.

      These are interesting stats, it would be interesting to know what cheiks wants to see the various players do. Gotta say though not surprised about kepu. The guys a monster but don’t see him demolish opposition like one enough for my liking.

      • Sape

        Not really answering my question, which i never asked in the first place. I was just wondering why Hooper is hitting rucks early on only 70-odd% when for example McMahon who is much similar player hits them earlier.

        • MM

          Because McMahon plays 6 and Hooper plays 7 – they have different roles. If you asked them to write their job description it would be different and if you asked Cheika to write their job description it would be similar to what they wrote.

        • harro

          Hooper gets to more rucks than McMahon, more than 60% more according to the stats above. I reckon it’d be difficult to have both stats high, because players that are first to a ruck most likely were’t involved in the previous ruck. Focusing on one would reduce the other

        • tah fan

          Mm below answered that. Each guy has a different role to play. Whilst they might both be similar in stature the have different orders. Thats what it will come down to

    • ForceFan

      Bridge over the ball = active engagement and gets points for impact.
      See more comments on reply to TWAS’s post.

  • Rugbykid

    It seems to me that you expect the forwards to do the vast majority of the the ruck work on the pitch. Backs also need to contribute, and not just hang off waiting for the ball, that’s inefficient. Obviously you know this because you watch rugby, but to leave backs entirely out of these statistics highlights your outdated perspective on how rugby should be played.

    • Bobas

      at the Brumbies Speight and Toomua’s contributions made 2013 G.Smith look like a God in that semi against the Bulls and 2014 Gerard Butler look like a decent replacement to Pocock.
      Sio Helped too, but he’s not a back.

      • Tim

        Where will Hoops go after Poey gets his match fitness back? ;)

        • Bobas

          I wouldn’t mind seeing him utilised the way Hodgeson should have been. 50th min replacement for Skelton or Palu in 8.

        • Tim

          Seriously, he is a valuable player, and he’s like the bloody Duracell bunny, although the stats above would indicate that we’re not getting a lot of bang for all of his effort. Of course, if he becomes an “impact player”, he’ll have to hand in the captaincy. But then that’s probably not a bad thing, or to be unexpected.

        • Bobas

          Hooper is like Phil Waugh, a pest at rucks but also brilliant elsewhere. Pocock is like G.Smith he can negoatiate the external forces and produce time over the ball to win it.

        • bad ass

          Hooper has been found on the above analysis to be ineffectual at rucks.

        • Bobas

          64% isn’t ineffectual its just not as effectual as others. 8% up is Carter, 8% points down is Kepu.

        • Jimmydubs

          But hooper is the 7… his job is to be effective.
          Compare and contrast with hodgson limited minutes stats

        • Bobas

          Everyone’s job is to be effective. It easier to appear better off the bench in a stats per minute table as you are fresher every minute.

        • bad ass

          Mate, convince yourself if you want to. It’s a daily point of disagreement and his supporters regarding his ruck work are usually from his home state. We all see him brushed aside against the all blacks at the breakdown. Now there is empirical evidence.

        • Pedro

          I think you’re barking up the wrong tree with regards to bias.

        • bad ass

          Really? Why?

        • Pedro

          Because the guy with larkham as his avatar is a brumbies supporter that lives in Melbourne.

        • bad ass

          Sorry Pedro. Please replace the word “usually” in my above post with “almost always”. It was not necessarily directed at Bobas, and I don’t mean to alienate New South Welshman as I am one. It’s just that it’s true in this, and many other situations when there is a conflict over an employee’s performance. Hooper is an important player for the Waratahs. I think you will find that many outside of NSW are not happy with his work at the breakdown. The statistics above are not glorious for a no 7.
          I think with Hooper being so good off the rucks we win some battles but lose the war at the Wallabies.

        • Brendan Hume

          Are there stats available for 7s from other international teams so we can compare these numbers? I think the game has changed a bit since Smith and Waugh were terrorising tackled players, or even Pocock… sides are tending to use defensive speed to tackle behind the gain line and counter rucks to effect turnovers – there are far fewer jackals in the game.

        • bad ass

          I agree that there are fewer jackals and I agree it would be good to have comparison stats. But it isn’t just the turn overs that seem an issue with Hoops, it’s also securing our own ball that he seems to get beaten at (admittedly mostly against the all blacks).

        • Bobas

          Is Hooper dating your mum? If so, what a bad ass.

        • bad ass

          I’d love to have Hoops at the dinner table with mum and the family over Christmas.

        • Clint Beastwood

          yes you’d hold him in a headlock over the pudding while mama gives him a haircut, and with a youtube video of that event you’d be the most popular rooster on GAGR

        • bad ass

          Dude, if Hooper dates my mum, she will make him her bitch!

        • harro

          The evidence is based on your belief that impact=effectiveness.

        • bad ass

          What else does impact mean if it does not mean effectiveness? Now a Hooper worshipper (I don’t mean to be derogatory in using that term, it’s more a psychological phenomenon) wants to drag the discussion into one over semantics. It’s not my beliefs that form the basis of the evidence. That is the evidence that we have been presented with from a source completely independent to both of us. Talk around it all you want. It’s there.

        • Bobas

          The evidence presents Hooper at the top of average rucks per 80 minutes, just below the median for ‘early to ruck’ and is directly in middle of the range for ‘impact at ruck’.

        • bad ass

          Yeah, heaps of rucks but not much outcome. Not very effective.

        • Bobas

          In other words a ‘pest’?

        • Brian

          Your grasp of statistics is clearly lacking
          unfortunately. Let me lay it out for you:

          – Hooper is hitting the most total rucks by a significant margin (about 40%
          more).

          – His averages for both “early to ruck” and “impact at ruck” (a great idea for a
          stat but a very subjective one) are almost exactly average for the team.

          – Now when you combine these two figures, you find that Hooper is still at (or
          very close to) the top of the table for both TOTAL “early to the ruck” and “impact
          at ruck” stats.

          – If you then take into account he makes the most tackles each game (with the
          second highest effectiveness) and the third most run meters (with the most m
          per run). Then take into account that he has managed to play every minute of
          every game in both the S15 season and the Walalbies season.

          Fine, stats don’t tell the whole story and your subjective perception of his
          play may be very different. But you can’t possibly suggest that Hooper has
          anything but the most impressive stats here of anyone.

        • bad ass

          Meh…. Excuse me if my stats are a little rusty, but if Hooper plays the most minutes then it means that he has more time to hit rucks. Therefore his rucks per minute are lower than someone who hits almost as many with less time on the field. So trumpeting the fact he has played so much time doesn’t help his statistics, does it? Now, Hooper averages lower middle of the group for “early to ruck”, which is ordinary for an open side. He is 6th out of 8 for “impact at the ruck”. Talk about his other qualities all you want, but I don’t need a Bland-Altman plot to tell me he should do better in the rucks.

          Hoppers tackles and runs with the ball are unquestionably very good.

        • Brian

          Yes, of course the overall time he has played is a double edged sword as it effects his per minute rate. Again, it is a balance of things though. He would comfortably be near the top of all stats even considering the fact he plays 80 minutes of every game.

          Look I’m not saying there aren’t issues with Hoopers game and this international season has certainly been worse than last years EOYT and S15, but if you are just looking at the stats you just can’t read them as showing anything other then Hooper having made an extremely solid (probably the best) contribution to the team.

        • bad ass

          Mixed bag. He a great player for many reasons. However, failure to dominate the breakdown is the primary reason we are losing.

        • bad ass

          No mate, he is third last for impact at ruck. I think you were looking at the penalties table.

        • Bobas

          The range is 56% – 72%. Hooper is 64%, the middle of the range.

        • bad ass

          Sorry, you are correct, and a wiley use of statistics. However, middle of the range is actually third last out of eight forwards. He is middle of the group for penalties.

        • harro

          I know that FF has expanded slightly his definition, but, from the original post impact was defined solely from a collision point of view. Strong physical contact, clean-out etc. With regard to rucks, nowhere was effectiveness mentioned. You made that jump in logic. Both ‘hands on ball’ and ‘latching on’ to protect the ball without opposition would not be counted in these stats, because there is little to no impact/collision involved, yet they are both highly effective actions in as far as retaining or winning possession goes.

          Don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone who doesn’t share your pathological dislike of Hooper is a Hooper worshipper.

        • bad ass

          Effectiveness is a descriptive term describing the worth of a value. There is absolutely no need for this word to be mentioned for me to use it. Hoopers stats show he is not as good as other forwards at the break down. Therefore, he is not very effective. If you are struggling with my use of the word effective, please replace it with “good”. This may help. I’m over it and moving on.

        • ForceFan

          I purposely chose “impact” rather than “effectiveness” as I considered the latter too hard to determine.

          My initial post included the term “active engagement” – I made no changes – just clarified what it meant.
          97% of 1st arrivals made impact.
          67% of 2nd arrivals made impact.
          43% of subsequent arrivals made impact (some as late as 5th).
          These are average numbers – many of the Backs get close to 100% on both early and impact as they often have no choice.

        • hugh

          It would be nice for a change to have a rugby discussion about the Wallabies without reference to States or super rugby franchises. It can get a little tiresome after a while.

          If the cap fits….. … …

        • harro

          Don’t spoil the ass’s day!

        • bad ass

          It’s relatively ineffectual.

        • Jimmydubs

          Pocock still not in the same breath as smith for me. If only considering the breakdown ok, everywhere else nope.

        • Bill

          First time I saw Phil he scooped up a loose ball and raced 50m to score, I thought ”whadda we have here, that was fing awesome, but he’s a real small freshfaced kid”. Next time I saw him he’d bulked up but lost what made him great. He was a good wallaby and his attitude was second to none, but after his first couple of years at test level where he was the better player(Croft), he was a distant 3rd behind Smith and Croft. But his distant was still very ,very good.

      • Jimmydubs

        He is a god

    • ForceFan

      Forwards have most involvement at the rucks but some of our Backs also do an incredible job. Hence why I included their average numbers – but they are generally much less than the forwards.

      I’m impressed by work by Toomua, AAC and Foley. Leali’ifano is a warrior at the ruck. In Bled3 he had more ruck involvements than Carter, Kepu and Slipper and was not far behind Fardy and Fianga’a.

  • Tim

    Big ups on the stats and effort ForceFan. Very enlightening indeed.

    • ted

      these are the sorts of stats that fill in many of the gaps. Impact of ruck involvement is something people have constantly discussed and great to see some numbers.

      Would be interesting to see breakdown on def vs attack involvements, as would expect most def involvements would be quiet passive.

      really well done and thanks for the effort.

      • DameEdnasPossum

        Bring back BAM BAM the BEAST…

    • Michael Hassall

      Agreed, all credit to you, particularly given that you had to re-watch all of the games, that is heroic to put yourself through that torment.

  • Parker

    So why isn’t Hodgson starting?

    • Jimmydubs

      There’s no logical reason

    • RobC

      Apparently he’s a has been ;)
      And also no future!

    • Nipper

      Because he wears the wrong shade of blue?

  • Patrick

    Ironically these suggest that Hooper should actually consider joining 15% less rucks so that he can be earlier and more impactful to the next one!

  • Alex

    Am I right in understanding that “Early to ruck” means 1st or 2nd after the tackler? If so, if you make the tackle it is presumably not possible to be “early to ruck” because you are already there. Given Hooper’s tackle stats does this paint a fairer picture of his breakdown involvements? If you can add tackle stats to ruck stats then the number of Hooper’s breakdown involvements is quite extraordinary – it looks to be over 50% higher than the next highest in the team? Its no wonder he is struggling for impact if that is the workload he is carrying. The problem may not be Hooper’s effectiveness but rather everyone else’s involvements? This may be somewhat true even if my understanding of the “early to ruck” metric is wrong.

    In any event, as any forward knows, it is much easier to clock up early ruck involvements when you are patrolling the fringes of the previous ruck. Hooper tends to defend wider channels.

    • RobC

      yes, pilfer stats too. But in any case its good info

    • Dane

      I’m not sure if this is the case, but if a tackler gets to his feet and participates in trying to steal the ball or slow down the ball for the opposition, this should be counted as an “early to ruck stat”

      Its a pretty standard expectation these days that a tackler should attempt to get to his feet after completing the tackle in an attempt to involve himself in the contest without having to enter “through the gate”

      • ForceFan

        If the tackler does more than get trapped in the ruck my stats recognise this as an early contact. If he exits the ruck and re-enters later it is not an early entry. In both cases he gets a tackle and ruck stat.

    • Jimmydubs

      There are some pretty large extrapolations and assumptions to get to “50%” higher made all the more awesome by him defending in the backs?

      What about the simpler explanation of “rounds around like a headless chook but has little impact”?

      • Alex

        Not even sure if this is right but it was just adding the figures in the two tables together (but then making a mistake as I should have said 40% not 50%, but it is still a big difference):
        Hooper: 159 + (14×4) = 215
        Faingaa: 117 + (9×4) = 153 next highest

  • dane

    Are the Slipper penalties from Scrums? Often it would not be Slipper’s fault that he scrum collapses. Could be that a Lock is in a poor position as we saw with Skelton which really puts the prop in a difficult position.

    Scrum penalties (for collapsing) should be awarded against the forward pack when collating statistics.

    • Patrick

      Or in Australia’s case, directly against Skelton!

    • Brendan Hume

      one was for a tackle in the air on Kearney

  • RobC

    Thanks this is nice info.
    But should be looked at along w/other standard stats: tackle/missed runs/metres to.

    Three key ruck impacts, which also should be considered:
    – penalty/TO
    – recycle speed
    – overlap created: how many more of the opposing teams are drawn into the ruck

    This stuff should be done by the game organisers.

    The main things:
    – I noticed is SeanMc will soon replace Hoops.
    – Fingers has finally learnt not to leap into rucks, and is getting the impact he wanted
    – Kepu rucks not great. But tackle count is good, if I recall correct

  • Mudmate

    Top effort, sir
    Much appreciated.
    I’ll have a look at them now and chat-in a bit more later

  • Mudmate

    Being the Tight Head won’t help Kepu get to early-phase rucks after the set-piece and chances are he’ll be carrying more flub than the rest of the guys by design. Not excuses, but it can’t help. The front-row look low on Defensive Rucks which kinda supports this.
    It’s difficult to be too judgmental without knowing what they’ve been briefed to do by Chieka.
    Wild that Hooper gets to nearly 50% more rucks than anyone else is remarkable. Think how fast he’d be if he got a haircut.

    • hugh

      To make it to an early-phase ruck after a scrum, Kepu must first break free from the 4 England players illegally boring in on him from all angles. Big ask.

  • Drongo

    Great analysis. On the Hooper point – his work rate is clearly extraordinary. But the comment that he is less of an impact at the rucks. I am interested in. From what I can read “making an impact” meant moving the shape of a ruck, cleaning out etc. If yes – then this is not the role of a 7 of Hooper’s frame. It is more for the bigger boys. Assume Hoopers primary function at a defensive ruck would be looking for a steal or slow down – so does that count as making an impact? Cheers!

    • ForceFan

      See my comments on “active engagement” on TWAS’ post. This includes the slowing down aspects. Hooper’s stats include recognition for this aspect.

      • Drongo

        Ok – thank you. Force Fan. So – slowing down and steals are included?

        • Bill

          That is probably always going to be a qualitative/matter for conjecture thing. It’s not that you can’t measure it, it’s finding an accepted/genuine way of doing so. I think Hooper has improved out of sight, but he’s gone backwards on this tour, as a direct result of the coach’s philosphy on how to approach the game. Now that probably reads as an attack on Cheika’s approach, I guess it is but it wasn’t intended that way. With Cheika I think you have to give some time and faith to get things going to where he feels the gameplan he wants is in place enough to be truly judged by the crucible of reality. Personally, if it isn’t adjusted I think it will be found wanting, and I think that’s a damned shame, and this is why I ‘m completely effing ropeable about McKenzie getting the arse, he was the main course, Cheika is the cheesecake.

    • Axemen

      greatest concern with Hooper is his EARLY TO RUCK stats – as a 7 his job is to be there first. This stat may be offset if he was the man making the tackle which I think you will find would sway in his favour. What I would like to see is a stat of his ruck involvement and early to arrive for OFFENSIVE RUCKS vs DEFENSIVE RUCKS, One of the common complaints is he spends too much time in the backs in attack – that is a stat that would show it or not.

      • Drongo

        I hear you on the offensive rucks. That would be interesting. And is a good point. But I think it is hard to “generalise” and say his primary role as a 7 and say it is to be there first… because I think the role 7 is varied. I think it depends a lot on: the opposition, the game, the player and the ruck. Sometimes it is not good to overcommit to rucks, for example. If we were to generalise a “primary” role of a 7 in a defensive ruck then… I think it would be to be a pest…to slow it down, steal balls, create doubt in refs minds etc… I’m not sure if such “roles” are quantifiable and thus may not show up in the stats. However ForceFan kindly posted and stated that the stats included slowing down… so that is cool to know that one of the “roles” is included. At the end of the day his work rate and fitness levels much be off the charts. That is un-debatable. But I suppose the question is… are we getting the most out of him? I think some people expect him to be a square peg in a round hole. He’s a super athlete yes, but he’s not a massive unit. So he is never going to physically dominate. But i think he can use his speed, fitness and skills to “dominate” in otherways.

        • Axemen

          On attack I would prefer him to be securing possession to allow for the quick ruck game that Cheika wants to play. As you said, he may be a square peg – he isn’t big enough for a 6/8 but he isn’t securing the possession required of a 7 as he is a damaging ball runner. But is he doing what the team needs at Test level to play the game Cheika wants – it isn’t a concern as much in S15 because teams really don’t contest the breakdown and slow the ball up as they do in Test rugby. It is also seen in how are 9’s seem to have players all over them at times when they are trying to pass because we don’t have the early bodies at the breakdown to secure it properly. I think Hooper would be fantastic playing that 30min end of the game sub role because he has such impact and speed. Start with a more traditional 7, Pocock if he gets back up and running or Hodgson and then let Hooper loose in the back half of the game – even at halftime.

        • Bill

          Well if I was going to critique Hooper it would be on defensive rucks. On offence, to paraphrase Brian Clough : “I see far more value in seeing you stick it in than taking the corners”. Of course in rugby we generally call those players wingers.

    • Vinnie Chan

      Hooper does a lot of carrying and tackling (which IMO he’s done a stirling job) so its reasonable that his ruck stats aren’t as high.

  • Stallion

    Can someone tell me Scott fardys stats? Surely he must be starting at 6 in World Cup.

    • ForceFan

      We certainly missed Fardy on the Spring Tour.
      His previous ruck involvement as follows:
      Boks2: 50 rucks (Attack 23/Defence 27) early 72%.
      (Hooper – 51, early 84%; Carter – 39, early 79%)

      Arg2: 36 rucks (Attack 14/Defence 22) early 69%
      (Carter – 23, early 61%; Fianga’a – 21, early 81%, Hooper – 20, early 85%)

      Bled3: 39 rucks (Attack 29/Defence 10) early 69%.
      (Simmons – 53, early 72%; Hooper – 51, early 63%;

      Fianga’a – 38, early 82%; Leali’ifano – 35, early 80% [workhorse])

      Unfortunately, I only started collecting the Impact data on the Spring Tour.

      • Axemen

        Would really like to see Fardy play lock for the Wallabies and fill that tough lock spot next to more a lineout style lock – as per the Bakkies/Matfield team for the Boks. I am not a huge fan of Simmons, but I think he is our best lineout lock option – what does everyone think of a Fardy/Simmons locking team? We then look at either a Higgers or Dave Dennis at 6? Gives us better LO options across the team based on Palu or even a Pocock at 8 (neither are jumpers), 2015 RWC is going to be a year or 2 too early for Luke Jones and McMahon just doesn’t give us a correct balance in the backrow.

        • Willie Anderson

          Gee wouldn’t write off Jones. His stats are only second to hodgson. He needs to work on discipline but I think most of his problems stem from over enthusiasm.

        • ForceFan

          Hooper….
          Average:

          Offensive Rucks: 126 – early 71%; impact 63%
          Defensive Rucks: 33 – early 82%; impact 67%.
          Best – England
          Offensive: 34 – early 79%; impact 91%
          Defensive: 4 – early 75%; impact 75%
          Worst – Wales
          Offensive: 36 – early 58%; impact 39%
          Defensive – 10 – early 80%; impact 30%.

        • ForceFan

          Apologies….this reply is to Axemen’s query below.

        • Axemen

          Great stats – thank you. The stats do show that Hooper may be hanging out in the centres a bit too much in attack. The AVERAGE impact stats are a real concern.
          Willie – as a REBELS/RISING supporter I am not writing Luke Jones off but there is work to do. Much related to body height and defence. Just as their is a huge jump from club to S15 – the jump from S15 to Test is even greater for consistent play – the Rebels themselves have facets of play they are working with him on as it isn’t up to S15. He did shine for the Rebels last season – but he shined in the wooden spoon team.

        • Bill

          Fuck no. Fardy would need to put on 10 kilos to play lock at test level. He’s a very good 6 but a very, very ordinary lock. I am still ticked off that the reds shifted Mark Connors from 8 to lock. In some respects what could they do, Kefu, Connors, Cockbain, Wilson? That was a freakish set of loose forwards. Both Connors and Wilson have mirror images today, but unfortunately they only wear black…McCaw and Reid.

        • Axemen

          10kgs – what are you talking about?
          Scott Fardy – 113kg
          Rob Simmons – 115kg
          Sam Carter – 110kg
          James Horwill – 117kg
          Luke Jones – 111kg (I only add him as many people keep saying play him at lock)
          So on what basis are you saying Fardy is too lite?

  • harro

    Seems to me that ‘impact at ruck’ is a very poor stat. In the last match against the Kiwi’s they didn’t really contest our breakdowns, which then results in everyone’s impact being down. Doesn’t really tell you much

  • hugh

    Simmons is not quite the penalty magnet many make him out to be, in terms of numbers of penalties against him, but some of the things he does get penalised for are really preventable.

    The analysis also puts paid to a couple of other myths about certain players. The stats for Carter and McMahon seem to be at variance with many pundits perceptions of their play.

    Some of these figures may be shaped by directions/game plans issued by the Coach such as ball carries, role at ruck, but penalties against and tackle effectiveness is down to the individuals skills.

    One thing that the overall stats numbers summary doesn’t tell us is the consequence of the actions. Some games can turn on one penalty decision, or one missed tackle.

    Not all missed tackles have the same consequence.

  • Mart

    Great to see Mcalman’s run meters and impact at ruck up there. In the past I would think they’d be a lot less. Definite improvement

  • Train Without A Station

    Firstly, the stats are clearly wrong. Rob Simmons gives away too many penalties. Just ask any Waratahs supporter. So your penalty figures cannot be correct.

    I’m interested to read the comments of people on the “Impact at the ruck” column.

    People see the stats and create their view without considering two factors that no statistic can include.

    What if there is no need to make an impact? For instance, if you are first at the ruck by enough margin, you cut off the ability to contest beyond a counter ruck, and therefore you have adequately done your job once you get over the ball.

    Hooper’s stats still show he is early to more rucks than anybody barring McMahon. Because he gets to more rucks, the percentage is diminished. Hodgson’s statistics are skewed because of bench performances allowing him to increase his temp dramatically.

    • harro

      You make some valid points. The outcome of the breakdown should also be considered.

    • ForceFan

      I included the term “active engagement” to include aspects such as providing a strong bridge over the ball or providing protection for the pilferer.

      i.e. staying braced and low and alert to possible attacks.
      No “impact” points for what I consider “passive engagement” to a ruck where a player arrives too late to be of any use, stands beside,but not part of the action, is not braced or even observing the opponents intentions/actions. In most instances rather than being 4th, 5th or 6th to a passive ruck the forward would be better holding on the defensive line.
      Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the strong physical aspects of the sometimes need for multiple cleanouts to protect the ball/pilferer.

      • Train Without a Station

        Thanks for the response FF.
        Can you advise what you have grouped an early but not impact engagement as. Eg. arrived, and drive over, propped to protect, but made no clean out or contact? I simply assumed this was early, but no impact.
        PS. The statistics are great. Certainly shatter a few myths, like Hooper not hitting enough attacking rucks, when he actually his 29 per game, and only McMahon of the forwards playing a lot of minutes, hit more, and it was 1 more.

        • ForceFan

          Stats never tell the full story but they can correct a false impression. Averages over 4 Tests can also be a problem.
          Against Wales, Hooper’s impact was only 39% on rucks in Attack (36) and 30% on rucks in Defence (10).
          Against England it was the other end of the scale. Hooper’s impact was 91% on rucks in Attack (34) and 75% on rucks in Defence (4).

        • ForceFan

          Please see my response to Rob G above.
          The key stats are 97% of 1st arrivals were rated as having impact and 67% of 2nd arrivals.

    • ForceFan

      The majority of Hodgson’s stats came from the Barbarians game where his results are better than the average (apart from rucks/min).
      It’s fair to say that this was against close-to-Test standard opposition.

      Offensive Rucks: 31 – early 90%; Impact 90%
      Defensive Rucks: 15 – early 100%; Impact 73%.
      Total Rucks: 46 – early 93%; impact 85%
      13 tackles at 93%, 9 ball carries for 41m (Av. 4.5m); 1 turnover; no penalty.

      This was Hodgson’s first full game in 4 months.
      Cheika only announced that he was Captain as the team was announced.
      Little preparation/combination time after the Beale & Link disruption.
      Understandably he combined very well with McCalman.
      After this performance I too was surprised that he was given only 24 minutes in 4 Tests.

      • Bill

        Great work on the stats, and even better hearing your rationale behind them and discounting/recognising their limitations.

  • PiratesRugby

    The idea that Carter has impact at the ruck is at odds with what we actually see during a game. I remember his debut match against France when people were saying he had a blinder and backed it up with impressive stats. I sat down to watch the replay again and focussed solely on Carter. He certainly made it to a lot of rucks but he just joined on most of the time without making any impact. A few times he tried to ruck or counter-ruck but it was with little effect. His tackles were mostly not dominant with him just hanging on to the attacker and someone else coming in over the top to bring them down. His runs were ineffective. I reckon his stats for that game were compiled by his publicist. In the EOYT games he was obviously having a go but his impact was a pretty subtle one.
    On the other hand, the stats seem to reinforce what we see from McMahon. Hungry for work and keen to get to the contact area first. Gets up and rejoins the line very quickly.
    Don’t get me started on Hooper. He’s got his Duracells in for sure but I doubt how effective he is. I guess he’s always making a nuisance of himself but he’s not McCaw or George Smith is he?
    And thanks for the stats.

    • ForceFan

      There is no doubt that Carter’s technique leaves a lot to be desired. However, he showed marked improvement during the Spring tour.
      In both rucks involvement and tackles Carter often provides a twisting contact which sometimes sees him get brushed aside. But his willingness to support our ball-carrier is clearly evident and his timing is improving. I’ve commented on “active engagement” below to TWAS. Carter always shows awareness when being on guard. Something that is often missing from Kepu’s ruck involvement.

      • PiratesRugby

        Yes, I agree, his EOYT has seen improvement for Carter. Thanks for responding. My point was a general one about how stats can be misleading and Carter’s first game was my main example. We should check the stats we are given against what we actually see as the game is being played.

  • Brendan Hume

    Were the “Others” stats normalised for the 80mins? – Sorry just reviewed. No worries.

    Thanks for the analysis. Really interesting stuff

  • Brendan Hume

    Horwill’s numbers are outstanding. Based on these figures, he’s hitting 45 rucks per 80 at 74% impact – 5 more rucks than any other player. Considering he started in two of the games (80 mins in the baa-baas and 50 in the French game), these look to be great numbers, although tackles and runs aren’t able to be assessed.

    Hodgson, similarly has great numbers, although I’m wondering how much they’re skewed by his role coming in later in the game.

    • RobC

      Kev needs a sabbatical. Then he should be back to his original form.

    • ForceFan

      Horwill’s tackles and carries as follows:

      Tackles – Av.12 at 84%
      Carries – Av. 13 at 1.8m = 23m. (Almost all m in Barbs game)

      He had at least 1 penalty.
      His game time was 16 min, 49min and 80 mins (Barbs).

      I provided more details of Hodgson’s stats in a response to Train Without a Station.

      • Brendan Hume

        You’d agree these are very good stats? It would be interesting to also analyse scrum performance while Horwill was on, compared with his replacements – obviously some overlap with Prop replacements, but it seemed throughout the tour Horwill, Simmons and Carter did quite well in the scrums.
        Thanks again for the great work with the analysis.

  • chasmac

    Who’s ruck stats best reflect their assigned role in the gameplan?

    • ForceFan

      A good question…and I suggest that we’ll never know the answer.

  • chasmac

    Is their an optimal scenario where the players on average reach a peak level of output?
    E.G. If player x hits 1 in 4 rucks of which 3 are attacking and their Early and impact %is > 75 then they are reaching optimum output.

    • ForceFan

      I don’t know what “optimum output” means or how it could be measured.
      The highest level of ruck involvement was made by Hooper and Hodgson in the last 10 minutes of the Wales Test.
      During this time they combined very well.

      Hooper made a total of 17 ruck engagements:
      Attack – 16 rucks; early 50%/impact 25%
      Defence – 1 ruck; early and without impact. 6 tackles

      Hodgson made a total of 18 ruck engagements:
      Attack – 10 rucks; early 90%/impact 50%
      Defence – 8 rucks; early 75%/impact 75%, 1 tackle, 1 turnover.
      This equates to making a ruck every 33 seconds.

      During the same 10 minutes efforts by others as follows:
      Skelton & Horwill – 11; Hanson – 9; Leali’ifano – 8; McCalman & Alexander – 7.
      All well above their “normal” work rate.

  • Benny A’s Tackle

    As a stats man by day this is just awesome, and I’ve often contemplated ‘doing my own’. So hats off to ForceFan, great work.

    And as others have pointed out, describing a ruck in stats is problematic. Coding a ruck becomes a nightmare if you try to describe it accurately. Something as simple as ‘first to a ruck’ with own team in possession should be coded in like 7 different ways (top of my head):

    First_to_ruck_1 : no defensive commitment – due to defensive tactic, ball cleared
    First_to_ruck_2 : no defensive commitment – due to secured ruck
    First_to_ruck_3 : defense engages ruck, ball cleared
    First_to_ruck_4 : defense engages ruck, ball slowed
    First_to_ruck_5 : defense engages ruck, ball turned over
    First_to_ruck_6 : defense at ruck, clean out effective
    First_to_ruck_7 : defense at ruck, clean out ineffective

    So imagine then having to code the second man into a ruck! The third! Madness.

    So invariably you need to simplify, which can make interpreting the data a bit more difficult.

    Now please don’t think this is a criticism of ForceFans work, I imagine he is a mortal; coding a game to this level is near impossible for one man. So to make things better, I wonder if people would volunteer to code like 10/20 mins of a particular game? The season is over so we have ample time to put together system. We could use the next few months to put to the G&GR public our thoughts on what constitutes a good ruck/tackle/kick/whatever and by next season we could have a stats making machine in place.
    Any takers? Stupid idea?

    • Tim G

      First off, completely agree regarding difficulty of coding. This example doesn’t even take into account field position, scoreboard pressure etc. literally hundreds of ways to code a single breakdown.
      Could be a good idea trying to get a stats program going but obviously going to be extremely difficult without access to the multiple camera angles, GPS data etc. that the professional clubs have access too.
      I’m up for having a go though.

    • ForceFan

      I’m happy to leave more complex coding to others…….
      But I’ll be very interested in the outputs.

  • Razz

    “Kepu is clearly our worst rucking Forward”

    Harsh but fair

  • Chunderstruck

    So Hooper hits on average 40 rucks per 80 min and has impact 64% of the time:
    40 x 0.64 = 25.6 good rucks per 80 min
    Carter hits 36 and has impact 72 % of the time:
    36 x 0.72 = 25.92 good rucks per 80 min

    So basically both players make an impact at 26 rucks per game, yet Hooper is made out to be worse

    • bad ass

      Because Hooper is a number 6 and Carter is a lumbering second rower, Hooper should be hitting more rucks more early.

  • ForceFan

    For those who requested a more detailed breakdown for each player:

    • Observer

      Great work ForceFan.
      Interesting to see this sort of information.
      Thanks for putting in the hard yards!

  • Rob G

    Please don’t pretend impact at ruck is a statistic. I know you defined it but it is still your opinion and definitely not a stat.

    • ForceFan

      Thanks Rob G, I agree that it still has some level of subjectivity.
      Do you have a recommendation of what other single stat, or other stats, which may be more useful (and can be relatively easily collected)?

      Have checked through the stats for England.

      In almost every instance the player arriving 1st gets credit for impact.

      Very few arriving 2nd make no impact.

      Players arriving 3rd, 4th, 5th or later can still make an impact. Against England 43% of the time.

      • ForceFan

        Correction:
        ~97% arriving 1st make impact.
        ~33% arriving 2nd make no impact (more than “very few”).

  • jutsie

    Skelton averages more rucks a minute than either jones or horwill and had similar impact to jones and both were better in that regard compared to horwill, carter and simmons. Skelton really needs some work on scrumming technique and overall fitness but he is copping way too much stick and simmons far too little based on those stats. Simmons is soft. And before we hear the usual cries about him being essential to ensure the lineout functions well ask yourself how well did the lineout function last Saturday?

    • ForceFan

      According to ESPN…..
      On own throw, Wallabies won 8, lost 1 (89%)

      On own throw, England won 12, lost 2 (86%)
      These stats suggest that the Wallaby lineout more than held it’s own.
      There’s no doubt that England won any subsequent mauls.

    • RubberLegs

      Simmons has a Super rugby title and a tri-nations title. He will be the first forward picked for a long time to come.

    • Stephen Larkham

      Hey jutsie, I don’t really understand why Simmons is soft? Could you give a bit of further explanation on this?

    • Bill

      Simmons is starting to add a hard edge to his game in his hits. It has been a deficit and a pain,previously, to those of us who choose to see how much he brings to the team. I think he can be our Matt Cockbain, and there’s reason enough to think he’s starting to see it as well. If we were having a fantasy draft on aussie forwards he would be my first pick.

  • Nipper

    Great Stuff @ForceFan. I know this takes a huge amount of time, so thanks for your efforts.

  • ForceFan

    Thanks to all contributors, constructive comments and generous feedback.
    Hopefully I’ll continue gathering data for Western Force games in 2015, the shorter RC games and RWC but it will depend on workload and other pressures.
    Enjoy the pre-season…….GO THE FORCE – FINALS IN 2015!!

  • Avid

    I leaurnt how to spell bureau

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@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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