Stats show how ruthless Springboks were on the counterattack in 2023

Stats show how ruthless Springboks were on the counterattack in 2023

Winning an unprecedented fourth Rugby World Cup title was an incredible feat by the Springboks, made even sweeter by the narrow one-point wins in each of their knockout games.

Their title charge had many cornerstones to it whether it was the rush defence or pinpoint Handre Pollard kicking to close it out. OptaJonny dug even deeper through their #AskOptaJonny series revealing a stat that may surprise fans.

Stat attack

Across all major club competitions and in Test rugby the Springboks were the only team to score more than a try per game from turnovers with an average of 1.15. This stat showcases the effectiveness of their rush defence in how it forces errors from the opposition. However, it is one thing to force the mistakes and another to pounce on them which the world champions did ever so well.

Users requested a variety of different statistics from the series with some interesting numbers surfacing. In 2023, 98 props played 800+ minutes and of them all it was Tongan skipper Ben Taumeifuna who averaged the most metres per carry. The front row known as Big Ben averaged 21 metres per 80 minutes all year long.

Staying with the front rows, another brilliant statistic showed how effective Malcolm Marx is at the breakdown as he disrupted or turned over 31% of the rucks he hit in 2023.

Anyone who has spent the last couple of months debating who the best inside centre was this year finally gets their answer. The Opta index revealed that Ireland's Bundee Aki was the top performer, statistically ahead of Jordie Barrett in second.

The introduction of the 50:22 law to the game changed tactical kicking in a big way as well-placed kicks offer great reward. In 2023, trio Brice Dulin, Finn Russell and Thomas Ramos cleared everyone else with a whopping seven 50:22s this year.

Meanwhile, All Blacks playmaker Richie Mo'unga was the most elusive of the flyhalves this year with the most clean breaks. However, that is likely because of Romain Ntamack's injury that ruled him out of the World Cup as the French had the highest average clean breaks per game prior to his injury.

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