Spring Tour – Wallaby Forwards – What do the stats tell us?

Spring Tour – Wallaby Forwards – What do the stats tell us?

There’s been a heap of discussion on all forums about the Wallaby Forward pack and especially performance at scrums. But what about other aspects of their game? The poster known as ForceFan on our Forum has done some excellent analysis of his self-compiled stats.

Recognising that it’s difficult to get reliable rugby stats, and frustrated by nothing being available on Ruck stats, and having some time on his hands, he decided to gather some ruck stats of his own.

So who was working hard for the Wallabies and actually making an impact in this important aspect of the game.

The following data was gathered from watching replays of each Test and compiling data for all Tests played. Ranking is from highest to lowest in each category.

Total Rucks 1


  1. Average rucks have been normalised as if each player played for the full 80 minutes. In reality only Hooper and McCalman achieved this feat. Simmons x 2 and Carter x 1. As the front row, in particular are usually flagging, this normalised number probably boosts what they would have achieved.
  2. Early to ruck means 1st or 2nd after the tackler. This data is not normalised but from actual rucks.
  3. Impact at ruck means active engagement, strong physical contact, changed shape of ruck, clean-out, etc. (more than hand on someone’s bum or playing statues.) Impact doesn’t mean that the player was “menacing” at the ruck. This data is also from actual rucks made.


Total Rucks

  • In the last Test against South Africa the Wallabies engaged 61% of rucks in Defence.
  • In the last Tests against Argentina and New Zealand the Wallabies engaged90% of rucks in Defence.
  • Over the 4 Tests on the Spring Tour the Wallabies reduced the engagement on rucks in Defence from 70% against Wales, 60% against France, 55%against Ireland, down to a low of 40% against England. The average engagement of rucks in Defence was 60%.


  1. Carter and McMahon are our best rucking Forwards.
  2. Hooper and Fianga’a a step below.
  3. Slipper, Simmons and McCalman another step below.
  4. Kepu is clearly our worst rucking Forward.

Individual Performance

  • McMahon makes lots of rucks, arrives early and has reasonable impact.
  • Carter is not far behind McMahon in total rucks, similar timing and the highest impact. Carter often makes the initial cleanout.
  • Hooper makes the most rucks but with average early engagement and one of the lowest impacts.
  • Fainga’a was one of the workhorses at rucks; often using his good technique to drastically change the shape of the ruck.
  • Slipper works in much the same way as Fainga’a but with slightly less impact.
  • Simmons makes lots of rucks early as a blocker/protector without making much impact.
  • McCalman made fewer rucks but appeared to pick his time of arrival to make impact when needed.
  • Kepu makes lots of rucks but is generally a late arrival and most often just filling space and playing statues to one side. He rarely “hits” a ruck and is more into leaning or pushing.


  • Horwill (145 mins inc Barbs): 81 rucks (Attack 61; Defence 20) – early 72%/impact 74%.
  • Alexander (116 mins inc Barbs): 56 rucks (Attack 44; Defence 12) – 82%early/impact 71%.
  • Hodgson (98 mins inc Barbs): 70 rucks (Attack 47; Defence 23) – early 90%/impact 79%.
  • Skelton (95 mins): 49 rucks (Attack 37; Defence 12) – early 76%/impact 76%.
  • Robinson (94 mins inc Barbs): 33 rucks (Attack 29; Defence 4) – early 73%/impact
  • Jones (93 mins): 35 rucks (Attack 33; Defence 2) – early 83%/ impact 77%.
  • Hanson (79 mins inc Barbs): 37 rucks (Attack 26; Defence 11) – 89%early/impact 54%.
  • Schatz (27 mins): 12 rucks (Attack 11; Defence 1) – early 83%/impact 50%.

Ruck Involvement by Backs

  • Against Wales: Leali’ifano – 22, Kurudrani – 22, Tomane – 18 and Foley – 13.
  • Average over 4 Tests: Toomua – 17 (2 Tests only); AAC – 12; Foley – 10

Some stats from ESPN Scrum.

How do these compare against Super XV 2014 performance for each player?


GREEN = Better than Super XV performance.
BLUE = Same as Super XV performance.
RED = Below Super XV performance.


  • Both Hooper and Kepu tackled well above their Super XV averages (3 more tackles/game and 3% more effective).
  • Faingaa‘s tackling 12% more effective
  • Slipper‘s tackling 4% more effective.
  • McCalman averaged 3 less tackles/game.
  • McMahon, Carter and Simmons significantly down in tackles and efficiency.

Ball Carries

  • McCalman, McMahon and Simmons maintained their Super XV performance.
  • Hooper seemed well covered by the opposition. Hooper normally averages 35m/game in Super XV.
  • Other Forwards made <50% of their normal carry m.

Penalties Conceded

  • McMahon (nearly x 3), Slipper (nearly x 2) and Hooper (nearly x 2) conceded more penalties.
  • Fainga’a, Simmons and McCalman conceded far less penalties.
  • Jones conceded 5 penalties in 93 minutes.
  • Hodgson, considered a penalty magnet by some, conceded no penalties and made a turnover in each of his 3 appearances (13 mins, 11 mins & 74 mins).

So what do you think, GAGRs? How do you interpret ForceFan’s stats?


The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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