Six Nations Diary - Round one

Posted 7th February 2019


Our data editorial team take a look at how England stifled an in-form Irish side to claim victory in Dublin.

Our editorial team are experts at creating stories from Opta's detailed rugby data. Throughout the Six Nations we’ll be taking a look at one of the key matches from each round and – from a statistical viewpoint – dissecting where the game was won and lost. Get in touch here to learn how we can help you bring your rugby coverage to life with quality data and insightful content.

Ruck Speed

England’s physicality and intensity set the tone and stopped Ireland executing the game plan they’ve become accustomed to under Joe Schmidt. Ireland have dominated the breakdown recently but against England their ruck speed was their slowest in a Six Nations game under Schmidt, taking on average 4.3 seconds from the ruck being formed to the ball leaving the breakdown.

Overall England’s ruck speed was slower than Ireland’s, however they did put together the most meaningful passage of play early on for the opening try – throughout the whole possession leading up to that try England’s average ruck speed was 2.6 seconds, all but one ruck lasting under 2.8 seconds, leading to quick ball for their backs which Ireland’s defence were unable to deal with.

England slowed Ireland’s ruck speed down to an average of 4.3 seconds per ruck

The gainline battle

The gainline battle when Ireland were in possession was also won by England. Excluding carries without a gainline – such as kick returns and support carries – Ireland crossed the gainline from just 41% of their carries, their third lowest tally in the Six Nations under Joe Schmidt – the lowest being their 40% rate against France last year, a game in which they failed to score a try.

Restrict chances

England also restricted Ireland’s chances to a minimum, the Irish had just 13 rucks inside England’s 22, again the lowest tally for Ireland in a Six Nations game since the beginning of 2014. Each of those periods of pressure in England’s 22 led to points for Ireland – firstly for Cian Healy’s try and then for a Sexton penalty in the second half – however other than that England limited Ireland’s opportunities to a minimum.

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