The Guardian is starting to get it’s head around a few sport stats these days – aside from the spoof ones they run on the back page. To go with the Rugby World Cup opening weekend they ran a small piece that compared teams so-called Killer Instinct i.e the time spent in the opposition’s 22 compared to the number of tries scored in the match. The results were:
20.6sec Australia (269s in Japan’s 22, 13 tries scored)
23.6 New Zealand (260s in Italy’s 22, 11 tries)
49 South Africa (392s in Samoa’s 22, 8 tries)
68.8 Scotland (550s in Canada’s 22, 8 tries)
135.3 England (406s in USA’s 22, 3 tries)
While I admit that this shows that England played poorly, as a measure it is nonsense. A few quick observations:
1 – Scoring tries isn’t everything. If your opponents persistently foul by being offside, a penalty may be all you can get from being in the 22. At least the team is scoring.
2- Teams can strike from anywhere on the pitch these days. Possession between the halfway line and 22 can become tries, penalties or drop goals. Being inside the 22 does not make it that much more likely that you will score – especially if you don’t have the ball.
3- Camping out in your opponents 22 can be demoralising for them, and make it less likely they will score against you. So that’s not such a bad thing.
4- This is ONE game. Run it across a whole tournament and you might get something meaningfull.