A look at the international aspect of the Pro14
With the League Stage of the Pro14 coming to an end I thought I’d take a look at the relative performances not of individual teams but of the nations involved.
To do this I’ve combined the results of all of the teams from each nation against all of the teams from each of the other nations. “Why have you done this?” I hear you ask. Well first of all I want to take a look at the relative strengths of the professional game in each country. Secondly to take a look at the depth of ability developing behind the National teams. I know there are only two South African teams in the Pro14 so this does not give an accurate picture for them. However, I felt it useful to include them to show how they have done in their 1st season.
With four teams in the Pro14 there have been a total of 60 games against teams from other nations. The Irish have won 35 of them or 58%. As you can see from the table below the Irish have performed very well against Italian and South African opposition and well against the Welsh. Only the Scottish teams seem to have been able to out perform them. Overall the Irish have had a good season.
With two teams in the Pro14 there have been a total of 36 games against teams from other nations and the Italians have won a respectable 15 of them. This gives the Italian teams a 42% win ratio. As you can see from their table the Italians have done well against the South Africans, held their own against the Welsh but struggled against both the Irish and the Scots. Overall the Italians have done quite well this season.
As with Italy, there have been a total of 36 games between the Scottish teams and those of other nations in the Pro14. The Scottish teams have won 27 of these, giving them a 75% win ratio. As can be seen from the table below only the Irish teams have posed much of a problem for the Scots in this part of the season and even here the Scots have won two thirds of their games. This has been a great season for the Scottish teams.
With only the two ‘weakest’ South African teams in the Pro14, little can be inferred about the state of professional rugby in South Africa. Their season has included a major shock for Leinster but also a really disappointing year for the Southern Kings. With 36 games played against teams from the other nations the South Africans have won 10 of them, or just under 28%. From the table you can see they have done best against the Welsh teams, had a hard time against the Italians and really struggled against the Irish and Scots. This has not been a good season for the South Africans. However, given the problems they have faced the Cheetahs in particular can be happy with their results.
Finally we have the Welsh teams. As with Ireland there have been 60 games between the Welsh and teams from other nations in the Pro14. The Welsh have won 24 of these giving them a 40% win ratio. This came as the biggest surprise to me given how well the Welsh national team performed in the Six Nations. As you can see from the table the Welsh teams have matched the Italians and South Africans but have had problems against e Irish and really struggled against the Scottish teams. The Welsh will be disappointed with this season. Although the Scarlets will be happy enough.
How will the national coaches feel?
Joe Schmidt and Gregor Townsend will be pleased with the winning culture being developed in their countries. Conor O’Shea should be really pleased that the Italian teams have out performed both the Welsh and South African teams. Rassie Erasmus will be watching the Cheetahs with half an eye on the RWC quarter final. Finally Warren Gatland will be concerned that the Welsh clubs are not performing consistently.
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.