A look at gain line success in the Super Rugby competition to date leaves one even more exasperated about South African rugby that simply doesn’t convince at this level.
Why? Because a side from the SA Conference, the Bulls, is second of the 15 teams with their percentage of gain line success, and they are also the best defenders of all the teams in keeping opposition to get over their gain line, according to stats and an article, Battle for the gain line, on the Sanzaar website. (https://super.rugby/superrugby/news/battle-for-the-gain-line/)
Yet they are not a three to the leading teams.
It is clearly a case where the use of possession is not maximized by the South African sides, with the Bulls gain line success (56% and second only to the Rebels 60%) well above that of the Crusaders (52%) , who however lead the log by a comfortable seven points – and are 15 log points ahead of the Bulls who have a match in hand.
Crusaders have also scored 45 tries (the most), the Bulls only 24 (the least).
The Bulls and the Stormers are also the best defenders of the advantage line with both only allowing 45% success by opponents to cross the gain line against them. The Lions (59%) are the poorest of the SA sides in this respect, having allowed 59% gain line success by opponents, which is only marginally better than the Reds poor 60%. The Sharks, 50%, are mid-range.
The Bulls are also ahead in the individual stakes, where Springbok lock Jason Jenkins is third of the forwards (71% after Dalton Papali’i 73% and Isi Naisarani 74%) with only Akker van der Merwe (67%) and Dan du Preez (63%) of the SA forwards among the top ten.
Behind the scrum it’s again the Bulls and the Sharks (Jesse Kriel and Louis Schreuder, respectively and both on 68%) from South Africa in the top ten, but well behind the Reds Chris Feauai-Sautia, 79%.
Crusaders Jack Goodhue’s 67% places him tenth, and therein lies the secret: Saders play as team, gain line success is only incidental to their game plan and their defence further from the breakdowns keeps them on top.
From Battle for the gain line, on the Sanzaar website (https://super.rugby/superrugby/news/battle-for-the-gain-line/)