SuperRugby Aotearoa

Super Rugby Aotearoa has reached its halfway point in the competition. This means that all the teams have played each other at least once, and now are preparing to face each other again in the coming weeks. The tournament has been fiercely competitive with Crusaders remaining the only team unbeaten thus far.

A team’s defense strategy is a vital component to winning.

We have seen that defense can be a vital component to winning matches in rugby union. Hence, if a team is missing a large amount of tackles, one would expect that team to be losing matches. This is because missing tackles can very easily lead to tries and points scored. Although making tackles does not win you a game directly, missing tackles may just give the opposition enough opportunity to score and win the game. Therefore, it is important for a team to have as few missed tackles in a match as possible.

Previous Super Rugby competitions have shown that if a team has a greater tackle success rate, they are more likely to win matches. In Super Rugby Aotearoa, we found that in only 50% of the matches, the winners had a greater tackle success rate. This can come down to a large variety of factors as to why the team who had a more solid defense did not come out as the winner.

Before the next half of the competition gets underway, let’s dig into some stats from the competition thus far!

When analysing the Crusaders, the unbeaten team of the tournament, we find they have only won matches with a higher tackle success rate in two out of their four matches played. This indicates how clinical the team is on attack because they are able to win matches with lower tackle success rates than the opposition. The big clash between the Crusaders and the Blues showed the Blues having a larger tackle success rate than the Crusaders even though they did not win. The Blues were not able to take advantage of the Crusaders missed tackles during the match.

There is a fine balance between offense and defense tactics.

New Zealand is world renowned for playing with a very attacking and expansive style in rugby union. If there is too much focus on their offense in matches, this may cause the defense of the team to break down and leave the team vulnerable when defending, especially after a turnover of possession where the defense could be unstructured due to the focus on offense.

Remember: defense is vital!

Now that all the teams have played each other once, they can all regather for the next matches to either try get a double over their rivals or they must try seek revenge and win the second meeting between the teams. Keep an eye out for how each winning team’s defence is compared to their opponent’s defence.

Read more on how a good rugby defense strategy wins matches. 

About the Author
Gregory Gordon.
Gregory Gordon is currently a Senior Video Analyst at VS Sports, who is highly involved in the analytics process by performing the analysis as well as managing the video analysts in the company. Gregory is in charge of training the video analysts in all the sports which are offered at VS Sports as well as ensuring that the quality of the analysis is being maintained consistently. He is passionate about sport conditioning and assisting athletes in optimising their sporting abilities. Gregory has obtained his Master’s degree in Sports Science (MPhil) through the University of Johannesburg as well as acquiring a Higher Certificate in Exercise Science through the HFPA. He previously has worked at Orlando Pirates FC for an internship where many different skills were learned and developed through the process.