The June internationals are over and the Rugby World Cup is only 15 months away!

I thought I’d take a look at how the teams who have qualified for next year’s World Cup in Japan are performing in their various competitions. To do this I’ve taken all of the full international games played by each country since the start of this year into account. Obviously, many of the Southern Hemisphere teams have only played a handful of games as yet but I intend to update this after each international window so things should start to balance out as we approach the Rugby World Cup.

I have drawn my data from the World Rugby website and have made it as accurate as I can. However, I had to compile the data by hand so the occasional error may have crept in. If anyone spots an error please let me know in the comments and I’ll correct it in later articles.

I would like to point out that I am not trying to say any team is better than any other in these articles. Rather I hope to allow you to see how each of the teams are performing at their own level. Teams can only play what is in front of them so the results for Georgia and the USA are just as valid as those for New Zealand and Ireland.

The League Table Approach

I started off by compiling a type of league table. I used the same points used in the 6 Nations and other competitions this year. IE 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 point for scoring 4 or more tries and a losing bonus of 1 point if the score was within 7 points. This produced the following table at the end of June.

Team P W D L For Against Dif. TF TA LB TB Points
USA 7 7 0 0 314 117 197 44 14 0 6 34
Ireland 8 7 0 1 215 137 78 23 17 0 3 31
Georgia 8 6 0 2 219 115 104 33 13 0 3 27
Wales 8 6 0 2 194 125 69 20 16 1 2 27
Scotland 8 5 0 3 221 183 38 28 20 1 4 25
Uruguay 5 4 0 1 183 154 29 24 20 0 3 19
England 8 3 0 5 148 157 -9 22 17 2 2 16
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 127 38 89 19 4 0 3 15
Russia 7 3 0 4 198 208 -10 19 16 0 3 15
Japan 3 2 0 1 84 42 42 11 5 1 2 11
France 8 2 0 6 146 221 -75 12 25 3 0 11
Fiji 3 2 0 1 82 64 18 14 8 0 2 10
S.Africa 4 2 0 2 95 98 -3 10 11 1 1 10
Tonga 3 2 0 1 70 53 17 8 6 1 0 9
Australia 3 1 0 2 55 55 0 6 3 2 0 6
Italy 7 1 0 6 134 259 -125 17 34 1 0 5
Argentina 3 0 0 3 37 97 -60 5 10 0 0 0

As you can see there are a few surprises, notably how many points and tries the USA and Georgia are scoring.  This indicates to me that both these teams are head and shoulders above their opposition and are quite capable of causing an upset or two at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. For an in depth look at potential upsets check out Kaito Goto’s article here.

The Points per Game Approach.

The previous table does not take into account the number of games played. Some of you may find this a problem so I produced a second table which does.

Team Played W D L LB TB Points pts/game
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 0 3 15 5
USA 7 7 0 0 0 6 34 4.857143
Ireland 8 7 0 1 0 3 31 3.875
Uruguay 5 4 0 1 0 3 19 3.8
Japan 3 2 0 1 1 2 11 3.666667
Georgia 8 6 0 2 0 3 27 3.375
Wales 8 6 0 2 1 2 27 3.375
Fiji 3 2 0 1 0 2 10 3.333333
Scotland 8 5 0 3 1 4 25 3.125
Tonga 3 2 0 1 1 0 9 3
S.Africa 4 2 0 2 1 1 10 2.5
Russia 7 3 0 4 0 3 15 2.142857
England 8 3 0 5 2 2 16 2
Australia 3 1 0 2 2 0 6 2
France 8 2 0 6 3 0 11 1.375
Italy 7 1 0 6 1 0 5 0.714286
Argentina 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0

From this you can see that many of the 2nd Tier nations are picking up a lot of bonus points in their games. Again I would like to highlight the USA who have only failed to gain a bonus point in their win over Scotland. Obviously the closer we get to the Rugby World Cup the less chance there is of a team maintaining a perfect record.

Tries, Points And Wins/Losses

The previous methods of looking at a teams performance is very results based. As we all know that can be deceptive. To balance that I’ve also looked at the number of tries scored both for and against the teams, the average number of points teams are scoring per game and their win/loss ratio. The number of penalty tries they have been awarded is also shown.

Team Played Win/Loss Tries Scored Tries Against Pen Tries Difference Av. Points Scored/Game
USA 7 100% 44 14 1 31 44.8571429
New Zealand 3 100% 19 4 0 15 42.3333333
Uruguay 5 80% 24 21 0 3 36.6
Russia 7 42.86% 26 23 0 3 28.2857143
Japan 3 75% 10 5 0 5 28
Scotland 8 62.50% 27 18 1 10 27.625
Georgia 8 85.71% 32 13 1 20 27.375
Fiji 3 66.67% 14 8 0 6 27.3333333
Ireland 8 87.50% 23 17 0 6 26.875
Wales 8 75% 20 16 0 4 24.25
S.Africa 4 50% 9 11 1 -1 23.75
Tonga 3 66.67% 8 6 0 2 23.3333333
Italy 7 14.29% 16 32 1 -15 19.1428571
England 8 37.50% 22 17 0 5 18.5
Australia 3 33.33% 5 3 1 3 18.3333333
France 8 25% 11 25 1 -13 18.25
Argentina 3 0% 5 10 0 -5 12.3333333

Once again you can see how far above their competition both the USA and Georgia are. You can also see which teams are having a problem with their defence at the moment. As the Rugby World Cup approaches I expect these numbers to become closer together.

Penalties And Other Kicks

Finally I produced a table to look at the kicking stats of the teams. As Gareth and Steven have pointed out, no team has won a Rugby World Cup without having somebody able to kick at over 80% success.

Team Played Converions Missed Con. Con. % Pens Scored Pens Missed Penalty % Drop Goals
Argentina 3 3 2 60% 2 0 100% 0
Australia 3 4 1 80% 4 0 100% 0
England 8 13 6 59.09% 9 1 90% 0
Fiji 3 6 8 42.86% 1 2 33.33% 0
France 8 9 2 81.82% 21 3 87.50% 1
Georgia 8 21 7 75% 9 3 75% 0
Ireland 8 19 3 86.36% 19 6 76% 1
Italy 7 13 3 81.25% 7 1 87.50% 0
Japan 3 8 2 80% 6 0 100% 0
New Zealand 3 13 6 68.42% 2 0 100% 0
Russia 7 19 7 73.08% 10 0 100% 0
S.Africa 4 8 1 88.89% 9 4 69.23% 0
Scotland 8 19 8 70.37% 14 2 87.50% 0
Tonga 3 6 2 75% 6 1 85.71% 0
Uruguay 5 21 3 87.50% 7 4 63.64% 0
USA 7 33 11 75% 7 2 77.78% 0
Wales 8 17 3 85% 20 6 76.92% 0

There are a couple of things we can look at from this table. First of all, if your team has a low conversion rate but high penalty success, like England and New Zealand, are they scoring most of their tries in the corners? Conversely, if they are kicking most of their conversions but few of their penalties, like South Africa and Uruguay, are they making the right choices in when to go for points rather than territory?

As Steven says in his article How to win a Rugby World Cup statistics can only tell part of the story. Hopefully, this article gives you a useful view of where your team is now and an indication of where they need to improve.

Author: Paul Futers

Born in Dundee, Scotland to English parents who moved around the country before settling in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I discovered Rugby at secondary school and played until I was involved in an accident during a 1st XV game.
At university I was awarded half colours for my work as Sports Editor for the student newspaper.
My favourite pass time is watching my youngest son play for South Shields Westoe in the age grades with my father-in-law and his father.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent statistics, research and angles. Huge congrats! Am currently based in Dundee. Look forward to reading more of your articles soon.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my article! Before I read this I always knew USA was a good side but didn’t know they were 7 wins from seven! That pool of death is going to be even tougher next year!

    • They are certainly building a winning culture and their victory over Scotland this summer will have given them the hope they can pull off at least one of the upsets you talked about.

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