Boring? SA franchises top the attacking stats in URC

rugby30 November 2023 11:00
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Willie Le Roux © Gallo Images

The naysayers across the rugby world may say South African rugby is a boring kick and chase affair, but after the opening stanza of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship the stats point to anything but that in reality.

In fact, teams probably need to be a bit better on defence but all four South African franchises are in the top eight of the competition attacking stats as we head into round seven of the championship.

On defence, not so much as three of the four SA sides are in the bottom half of the table.

While part of that stat may be the fact that all four franchises have undergone four week tours in the northern hemisphere and are only starting to play at home again now, they still paint a very interesting picture with the Bulls - like their log position at the moment - the top SA side when it comes to overall attack and defence.

In fact, the Bulls top the attack stats overall ahead of Irish juggernaut Leinster, and are currently considered the best attacking side in the championship overall.

They top the stats for the most points scored (230) in the opening six rounds of the competition, as well as tries (31).

The Bulls also rank second for clean breaks (50) and offloads (63) and third for metres gained (1362) but only sixth for defenders beaten (123).

Leinster are second and table toppers Glasgow third, with Edinburgh fourth and the DHL Stormers, who struggled on tour, fifth.

The Stormers do top the offloads stat with 66 but their other stats are a bit disappointing.

The Hollywoodbets Sharks, however, have another interesting stat, considering they won their first game last weekend. They top the metres gained stat with a whopping 2740 - showing that while they make the yards, their finishing isn’t always there.

The Emirates Lions are eighth on attack, with the fourth best tries scored, points scored and defenders beaten stats in the competition.

On defence it is a totally different matter however, as Italian surprise package Benetton top the overall defence logs.

The Italian franchise is one tackle short of a massive 1000 tackles for the season, more than 100 ahead of the top defensive SA side, the Bulls, the latter who has made defence a big part of their game this season and will still want to improve on their 89 per cent tackle success rate.

The Stormers are 12th on the defensive overall stats, with one particular stat standing out - they have the second most turnovers lost, something last season’s finalists will want to improve significantly on at home. They have also conceded the most penalties in the competition with 50 already given against them.

The Lions' tackling seems to be their downfall, with the least amount of tackles made in the league phase so far, and the worst tackle success rate with 84 per cent.

And the Sharks, sitting in 14th spot on the defensive rankings, have the most turnovers lost in the competition - 97 - as their Achilles heel, but are third on the tackle success rate with a 90 per cent return - something that will please coach John Plumtree.