Less than a year to go to the Rugby World Cup in Japan!

At the end of September I took another look at the world cup standings one year out from Tokyo 2019. If you have not seen my first article on this you can find it here. Since then Samoa and Namibia have also qualified, leaving just the one spot vacant in Pool B. I’ve used the same data from World Rugby as I did in the first article and used the same bonus points system as the Six Nations and other competitions use in order to develop the ‘league’ tables.

The ‘League’ Table

With the southern hemisphere season drawing to a close most of the teams have now played roughly the same number of games. This type of table is a good indication of how the teams are performing in comparison to each other. So at the end of September the table looked like this:-

From this, the obvious talking point is the woeful lack of games the Pacific Island teams, including Japan, have been able to compete in. Three or four games in nine months is not enough to be able to build any sort of a game plan, or even enough team cohesion, to be able to compete equally at a World Cup.

The second point to look at is the number of bonus points picked up by New Zealand. They have scored more than four tries in each of their games. Even when losing they pick up bonus points. This ability could be decisive in a tight finish to their group.

Thirdly take a look at the points scored and points difference for Namibia. They have scored an average of 69.4 points per game. They have won all their games by an average margin of 55.6. Could they be a dark horse for Pool B?

Points per Game Table

As in the previous article I’ve looked at the teams based on how many points they are picking up per game. This is particularly important when looking at the Pacific Island teams, given their lack of games.

There is little change in this table, although the loss against South Africa has dropped New Zealand below the USA. Newly qualified Namibia are the only team with a perfect record this year. South Africa and Argentina have both improved their points per game over the course of the Rugby Championship to the end of September. Australia’s average points have dropped over the course of that competition which would suggest they might struggle in the November Tests.

Tries, Points and Winning Percentage.

Looking at these stats obviously shows more of a change over the last three months.

The most interesting thing to me about this table is that the so-called minnows are actually scoring as many if not more points per game than the All Blacks. Looking at the bottom of this table also shows how few points some of the biggest names in world rugby are scoring in each of their games. Has defence come to dominate 1st tier rugby so much that most of the top teams have forgotten how to score?

Penalties And Other Kicks.

Finally, we take a look at how teams are doing with regard to their kicking stats. Remember that teams need to be succeeding at over 80% of their kicks to fit the profile of a world cup winner.

From this, we can see that France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Russia and Wales have achieved that level so far this year. Tonga and Uruguay are at 80% and the rest of the qualified teams still have some work to do in this area.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you spot any inaccuracies in the data let me know. The world cup is fast approaching and looks like being the best one yet!

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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting article Paul. If I was to be optimistic about Japan, I don’t think three tests in 9 months is too much of a worry because 30 of the 33 players selected in June were Sunwolves players, so team cohesion is building well. I think Tamura, Fukuoka, Lafaele and Tupou showed that against the All Blacks a few days ago.

    Interesting how Wales are beating Australia in all of these metrics! I cannot wait for this weekend that should replicate their clash at the World Cup. For the replicated World Cup clash next week between France and Argentina, the teams look fairly even on these metrics. I personally think the Northern Hemisphere will win 2-0 for these matches!

    • Thanks, Kaito. It certainly helps Japan that most of your players are based at home but think what they would be like if they were able to play 10 to 12 internationals a year rather than 5 or 6 and we all know how the PI teams would do if they were given a fair crack at it.

      I’m really looking forward to the rest of this month and then looking at this again. Wales seem to have been flying under the radar in this world cup cycle but have been consistently improving. I think they have a good chance of going all the way.

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