Let’s have a look at the player statistics for the Boks’ opening Rugby Championship match, courtesy of Verusco.
Possession numbers were exactly equal, with each side in control of the ball for exactly 40 minutes. They couldn’t be separated in terms of tackle effectiveness, with 91% each, but the Boks made slightly fewer tackles over all (148 to 161). The Argies conceded slightly more penalties (14 to 10) and also committed more handling errors (18 to 11).
Open side flanker Marcell Coetzee was the main man on defence, with 16 tackles from as many attempts. Next best were Willem Alberts (14 from 16) and Eben Etzebeth (13 from 13). Other players to maintain a 100% record on defence were Morne Steyn (8), Adriaan Strauss (6), Flip van der Merwe (6), Jacques Potgieter (6) and Ruan Pienaar (6). Pienaar emerged with the lowest mean time between tackles, making one good stop every 4 minutes he was on the field. Next best were Flip van der Merwe (4.5) and Coetzee (one tackle in 5 minutes over the course of 80 minutes).
Missed tackles were few and far between, with only Beast Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Alberts and Francois Hougaard guilty of missing more than 1 on the day. Mtawarira’s 75% (6 from 8) was the lowest tackle effectiveness in the team and the only player to manage less than 80%.
Francois Hougaard won possession 7 times, followed by Andries Bekker, Morne Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo and Zane Kirchner who each did so on 4 occasions. Kirchner made the most running metres (73), just ahead of Bryan Habana (71) with hooker Strauss coming in a surprising third place with 61. Hougaard and Habana made 2 line breaks each, with Kirchner adding 1 as well. Offloads were clearly not a major part of the game plan, with no player making more than 1 in the game. Andries Bekker made the most passes outside of the halfbacks (12), but special mention must probably be made of Ruan Pienaar’s contribution of 28 passes in just 24 minutes on the park.
Alberts hit the most total rucks (24), ahead of Etzebeth (23) and Jannie du Plessis (20). Lwazi Mvovo was th top backline rucker, with 12. Pat Cilliers was the most active, though, hitting a ruck every 1.91 minutes he was on the field. Next best was Jacques Potgeiter (2.58) and then Jannie du Plessis (2.85).
No player committed more than 4 total errors, with that number being shared by Jannie du Plessis, Willem Alberts, Francois Hougaard and Jean de Villiers.
The most valuable player award is really wide open given these numbers, with nobody really staking much of a claim for it. Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Pienaar and Zane Kirchner are the four that came closest, so I guess you can pick your own winner out of that bunch!Tweet