World Rugby has taken a look at some of the key trends and statistics from the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series ahead of the next round in Sao Paulo.
The carrot of qualifying for rugby sevens’ debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was always likely to ramp up the levels of preparation and competition on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series this season, and that is exactly what happened at the opening round in Dubai.
Australia may have failed to retain their Dubai crown after a last-gasp 19-17 loss to great rivals New Zealand in December, but statistically speaking Tim Walsh’s side were the stand-out team in the tournament.
Statistics can be dangerous in isolation – as Australia’s second place ultimately shows – but they can illustrate trends, and there have been many in the relatively young sport of women’s sevens over the past few seasons.
Firstly the statistics show that Australia had been the most improved team on the series last season, reaching a first Cup final and winning two of the four title deciders they contested against New Zealand, so momentum would appear to be on their side in the countdown to Rio.
In Dubai Australia scored a try every 44 seconds of possession, while only conceding a try every 222 seconds of play in defence. They also enjoyed the same frequency of visits to their opposition’s 22 as New Zealand, at 6.3 per game, but had a better conversion rate than the series and world champions, turning 84 per cent of those entries into tries, in comparison to their rival’s 71 percent.
Australia were also aggressive in defence, boasting the second highest tackle/ruck rate and the best positive turnover differential of the tournament (29), winning 50 turnovers and conceding just 21. The next best differential was England with seven.
And it is not only New Zealand and Australia who are raising the bar – the statistics show an overall improvement in skill sets and the execution of those skills under pressure.
- In total, a try was scored every 75 seconds of play in Dubai, in comparison with recent higher averages of 89 seconds.
- An average of 36 points and 5.8 tries per game was an increase from a typical match over the first two series of 29 points and 4.8 tries.
- Related to that, the percentage of successful conversions has steadily risen from 48 per cent in the inaugural Series in 2012-13, to 56 per cent in Dubai in the opening round of the 2014-15 series.
- To show the overall competitive edge in the series now, the number of matches won by five points or less has increased from 22 to 38 per cent, year on year.
The top two may currently be at a different level in elite competition, but with five rounds remaining in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Canada (third) and France (fourth) will tell you that those four qualifying spots for Rio are still very much for grabs.
Source: World Rugby
2014/15 World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Day One on 8 February- streamed via http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/ from midnight.
Australia v Brazil, Pool B, 12.22am (AEDT), 8 February
Australia v China, Pool B, 2.44am (AEDT), 8 February
Australia v Fiji, Pool B, 5.28am (AEDT), 8 February
Day Two on 9 February - broadcast on http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/ and FOX SPORTS 1 to broadcast the Women's competition from 5.00am.