Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
The third HSBC World Series event is in the books and before we set our eyes on Las Vegas, it is time to take a look back at Wellington broken down in stats and some fun facts.
New Zealand’s win at home places them in a deadlock with England for 1st place in the World Series standings. Of the three tournaments thus far, England has played in every final and New Zealand in two of the three finals. The only other team to reach a final this season is Samoa, who lost to England in the Cup Final in Dubai.
Tackling machines… England’s defense was a major reason why they reached their third straight final. The team clocked in 120 tackles in Wellington. The number was almost 20 more than the next highest team (Kenya) and almost 40 more than the tournament average which was 81/team. Impressive… most impressive.
Blowing up… New Zealand’s Declan O’Donnel exploded at home scoring 10 tries including three in the final. His scores alone could make up a great portion of the Top 10 from the tournament.
Speaking of tries scored, 232 tries were scored in Wellington… a average of 5.3/game. Teams averaged 12.76 passes for every try scored.
On the passing front, 2961 passes were completed in Wellington which was an average of 67.3 completed passes per game. Fiji was the tournament leader with a whopping 255 passes completed.
On the polar opposite end of the passing spectrum was Canada, who went 1-4 in Wellington. The Canadians were only able to complete 112 passes over the weekend. The total was well under the tournament average of 185/team.
Like a sieve… Papua New Guinea is fairly inexperienced on the World Series and it showed big time. The islanders missed a tournament-worst 27 tackles in Wellington which amounted to 5.4/game.
Another Pacific Island nation, Tonga, leaked errors for most of the tournament and came out on top with 29 errors made or 4.83/game. They did, however, reach the Bowl Final where they were defeated by Kenya.
Time for some USA stats.
In Wellington, the USA went 3-3 and won the Shield Final (13th place). Much better than their trip to South Africa, but a long way off from being among the Top 8 teams (or even Top 10) on the series… which is where they belong.
The team was outscored during the tournament 129-93. Team USA gave up 20 tries while scoring 15 tries. The 93 points scored by the USA was good for 7th in the tournament.
The USA remain in the upper levels in tackle categories. In Wellington the USA made 75 tackles and missed only 15 tackles for a completion rate of 83% which was the 6th best in the tournament. The team averaged only 2.5 missed tackles per game which was one of the best rates in Wellington. Their 83% tackle completion rate was their best of the season (76% in Dubai, 73% in George).
The USA made 19 errors (3.17/game) in Wellington which was 6th least in the tournament. It was a marked improvement over George where they made 29 errors, but more than the 13 they made in Dubai.
Team USA was also one of the stingiest teams in regard to surrendering possession. The team only surrendered possession 45 times (8/game) which was tied for 2nd least.
The squad completed 171 passes in Wellington. Their average of 28.5 passes completed per game was one of the lowest in the field. The team continued to stay near the top of the leaders in strike rate. The USA averaged 11.4 passes for every try scored.
Team USA Stats from Wellington 7’s
The stats aren’t as telling as the ones in George that had a direct correlation to the team’s final results. In Wellington, the USA was among the leaders in tackle percentage, but were made to suffer by England, Wales, and Scotland for the tackles they did miss. There isn’t a stat for lack of patience, but it was another bugaboo for the team in New Zealand. The team was also on the receiving end of some kick and chase scores. Until that is addresses, more teams will test the USA with kicks.
The big one is this weekend… Las Vegas!
All of the stats can be tossed out the window. The USA needs to do well in Las Vegas… for the fans, standings, World Series points, and most of all for NBC and TV viewers.
They face an immensely hard task with Samoa and South Africa in their pool. Ranked 3rd and 5th respectively in the standings, both teams can punish mistakes. Japan rounds out the USA’s pool in Las Vegas and are in for a long day.
Rugby Week in America is here!!!!!