Ireland victorious after RBS 6 Nations Super Saturday stats bonanza
After a thrilling climax, Ireland took the trophy by the finest of margins. We crunch the data behind a tournament that was far from by-the-numbers.
So enthralling was Super Saturday of the 2015 RBS 6 Nations that it feels like people have only just had the chance to draw breath and take stock.
Ireland secured their second consecutive crown and, like in 2014, it came down to points difference as England were denied despite an enthralling win over France at Twickenham.
Six measly points was all that separated the two nations after five captivating rounds of action with Wales only four points further back in third.
Clearly the margins are so fine at the top and we asked the Accenture Analysis Team to look back at some of the key statistics to explain one of the most dramatic Championships on record.
221 points scored on the final day
Coming into the final round, it was a pretty safe bet to suggest that points difference was going to be the decisive factor. But even so, few can have expected Ireland, England and Wales to release the handbrake in such spectacular style on Super Saturday. 221 points and 27 tries were scored across the three games, far surpassing the previous record for an individual round of 196 from all the way back in 2001. Indeed the overall statistics for the 2015 Six Nations show 62 tries and 660 points - the best aggregates since 65 tries and 698 points were scored back in 2007.
66 years since Ireland last claimed back-to-back Championships
1949 was the last time that Ireland retained the crown but after a nervous wait with chaos unfolding at Twickenham in the final game, it was Paul O’Connell again raising the trophy aloft at BT Murrayfield.
2008: the last time that England conceded five tries at Twickenham
Racking up a half century against France is not something to be sniffed at but England’s defence will be giving Stuart Lancaster and his coaching staff some sleepless nights. France ran in five tries in the 55-35 defeat at Twickenham, the first team to do that since South Africa seven years before. In total England shipped 11 tries during the Championship and that, more than anything else, is what cost them the title.
476 passes completed by Conor Murray
The Ireland scrum-half is the heartbeat of Joe Schmidt’s side, if he plays well then Ireland are nigh on impossible to beat. His kicking game was sublime throughout the Championship but when you look at his pass total - 158 more than nearest rival Greig Laidlaw- you get a clear idea of Ireland’s dominance over the five games.
0 Irishmen in the top 10 for offloads
Joe Schmidt is not a believer in offloads, they are viewed as an unnecessary risk by his Ireland team who are instructed to protect possession at all costs. Contrast that with England who had five players in the top 10.
18 tries scored by England in the tournament
England’s attacking game came on leaps and bounds in this year’s Championship, topping the try charts with five more than Wales. By contrast Ireland were crowned champions despite only scoring eight.
Four tries scored by Jonathan Joseph
Joseph’s electric form was one of the big plus points for England, the Bath centre finishing as the Championship’s top try scorer. A fine score in Cardiff kicked off his tournament in style before a double against Italy and another dazzling effort against Scotland. So razor sharp did Joseph look that it is hard to see how Manu Tuilagi slots back into England’s World Cup XV. That was an inconceivable notion at the start of this year.
75 points scored by George Ford
Ford’s superb display in the 12-try thriller at Twickenham that rounded off this year’s Six Nations saw the fly-half leapfrog Leigh Halfpenny to finish as the tournament’s top points scorer. Indeed Ford was only 14 points behind Jonny Wilkinson’s all-time Championship record of 89. Not bad for a 22-year-old who had never started a Six Nations game before this year.
93.75% goal kicking success rate for Greig Laidlaw
While Ford may have topped the overall point scoring table, it was Laidlaw who was the tournament’s most dead-eye kicker from the tee. Laidlaw slotted 15 of his 16 kicks at goal, comfortably the highest success rate of any player who took more than ten shots at goal over the course of the five rounds.
63 carries made by Stuart Hogg
It was not a happy time for Scotland as they finished bottom of the pile with five losses from five. But in full-back Stuart Hogg they had one of the Championship’s most effective players, the 22-year-old topping the carry count across all nations while also beating more defenders (20) than any other player.
84 tackles made by Jonny Gray
The Scotland lock was one of the breakout stars of 2015, despite his country’s struggles. Gray made 84 tackles, more than any other player in the tournament, and missed only one for a staggering 98.82% success rate.
Nine clean breaks by Jack Nowell
The Exeter Chief was not selected for the first two rounds of this year’s Championship as Stuart Lancaster opted for Jonny May on England’s left wing. But Nowell came in for the Ireland clash in round three and more than made up for lost time. Nowell’s total of nine defenders beaten was the highest in the Championship, despite only making three starts.
24 lineouts won by Alun Wyn Jones
It seems too reductive to boil Jones’ contributions down to a lineout statistic. The British & Irish Lion leads from the front for Wales in nearly every department but his lineout work this year was spectacular. How Warren Gatland would love to wrap his man up in cotton wool until the World Cup comes around.
Seven turnovers won by Blair Cowan
The Scotland flanker won more turnovers than any other player in 2015 but he also conceded seven penalties. That is the cost of living on the edge as an openside flanker.
1969 was the last time a Welshman scored a hat-trick in this Championship
George North’s second-half treble against Italy saw the winger become the first Welshman since Maurice Richards against England in Cardiff in 1969 to score a hat-trick.
Throughout the RBS 6 Nations, the Accenture analysis team, which includes Nick Mallett, provided fans with insight and analysis to see beyond standard match data. Follow @AccentureRugby and download the Official RBS 6 Nations App.