Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The scrum-half ... by the numbers ...

Sometimes stats amaze me, sometimes they bore me. Work was making me insane today, so I web-surfed in the interest of rugby. I came upon these statistics about the last zillion test matches, and started doing some rugby math ... and had some thoughts ...

In an typical 80 minute international game the followings occur approximately x amount of times:

  • Stoppages (total of line-outs, scrums, scrums with resets, free kicks, penalties, drop-outs, pretty much any time the whistle blows) - about 85
  • Ruck/Maul/Tackle - about 160
  • Trys - 5
If you figure that the time for the ref to blow the whistle, set the mark, and facilitate the scrum/lineout/penalty activity takes about 20 seconds, that's 28 minutes we can knock off the playing-time clock, so we're down to 52 minutes.

Every time a try is scored, it takes about 1 minute from whistle through conversion attempt through drop kick. Now we're down to 47 minutes.

And what the heck, lets eat up 3 miscellaneous minutes for referee discussions, explanations of penalties, bla bla bla. That takes us to 44 actual minutes of running, passing, kicking, tackling, rucking, mauling, scrumming, line-outing, and generally participating in rugby.

  • At every single scrum the scrumhalf is involved, defensively as well as offensively
  • At every single lineout (unless your driving it into the tryzone, and even then, seriously), the scrumhalf is involved. Less so on defense but still somewhat involved.
  • Hopefully, if a scrum half is fit, they are involved in most rucks and mauls. Offensively, they obviously are, defensively we count on them to direct the defensive effort of the forwards.
Of course they're not in every single event, but most of the time, if they are not, its because they were actually the ball-carrier.

So lets be conservative - lets assume that our scrum half doesn't kick for touch, but does execute quick taps and penalty plays. Lets assume they are involved in 80 percent of the rucks and mauls and occasionally at tackles.

According to my rugby math, in the course of one single rugby match, a scrumhalf is actively engaged in at least 140 activities, and most of those activities are decision making activities.

In 44 minutes of rugby? 80 minutes with stoppages? This basically means that for every minute of running time, the scrumhalf does two things. If you break it down only to active time, that's one activity per 15 seconds of play.

The really really good scrumhalves don't just put the ball in the scrum, distribute, and direct traffic - they are evasive, they can kick, they are fast, and they are playmakers!

So I guess its pretty darn important that that scrum-half be a big-time leader and a highly competent decision maker. I mean, we all know this intuitively, but looking at the numbers is kind of interesting.

To think all I've been worried about is that darn left handed pass!


Kentucky said...

yeah...we're kind of a big deal =)

Anonymous said...

My scrum half at the weekend probably did that in a 3 match festival, including scoring 4 out of our 10 tries on the day. I wasn't happy she only kicked 6 out of 10 conversions. I still need a fly half who can catch her pass off either hand!

West Rugby said...

you said it kentucky. we are kind of a BIG deal!

Savannah said...

Knowing all of the statistics on a single game leads to a finer understanding on how one of the rugby games work, and how it can be taken advantage of. As a fan of various rugby league clubs, I can't help but imagine how amazing that every player can be managed to form plays needed to create a hardcore offensive or defensive advantage.