This year’s Guinness Six Nations is set to be the most competitive in years – highlighted by figures showing Scotland have one of the competition’s most potent attacks.
Figures from sport data firm Gracenote show that Gregor Townsend’s side, who have long been underdogs in the annual tournament, have been the most successful of the teams involved at getting into their opponents’ 22, and can be backed at a whopping 14/1 to win the tournament with GIVEMEBET.
They are also second-best, behind Ireland, when it comes to converting those opportunities into points – though their poor defensive record tempers enthusiasm for their improvement.
The statistics bode well for reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland in particular, but make grim reading for France – while England defence coach John Mitchell’s comments labelling the Irish “boring” are undermined as the Red Rose themselves look set for a string of low-scoring games.
Gracenote tracked every match since August 2017 between the Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams ranked in the world’s top 10 – meaning Italy, who currently rank 15th, were excluded.
In the matches in question, Scotland entered their opponents’ 22 an average of 7.40 times per match – comfortably the highest among Six Nations teams, with Ireland second at 6.45.
The same two teams led the way in points per 22 entry, though with Ireland this time on top with an average of 2.99 points to Scotland’s 2.66.
Joe Schmidt’s side also led the way on the defensive side, allowing the opposition into their 22 just 5.64 times per match and keeping them to 2.05 points per entry.
In that regard, there could hardly be a more marked contrast with Scotland, who allowed the opposition into their 22 on 7.10 occasions each match – France’s 6.82 was the next-highest mark – and gave up the second-highest points average per visit at 2.52.
England were second best in both defensive categories, giving up 5.92 entries per match and 2.07 points per entry, but ranked poorly in attack.
Eddie Jones’ men breached their opponents’ 22 just 6.17 times per match – better than only France (6.09) – and their average of 2.14 points on each visit was the worst among the five teams.
Wales ranked third in all four categories, with 6.31 attacking entries per match yielding 2.48 pointseach, while the defence allowed six entries per match and 2.46 points each time.
Only France had a negative record, giving up 6.82 entries to their own 6.09 and 3.27 points per entry to 2.34.
For Italy, statistics were only available for last year’s Six Nations when they entered the opposing 22 only 5.2 times per match, but converted those into an average of 3.31 points. At the other end, though, they allowed a staggering 11 entries per match into their 22 and an average of 3.53 points on each occasion.
Meanwhile, more than half of last year’s games were decided by a margin of 10 points or fewer, in line with the overall trend in recent years.
That included dramatic last-gasp wins for Ireland in France, 15-13 thanks to Jonny Sexton’s drop goal three minutes and over 40 phases of play beyond the 80 minutes, and Scotland in Italy as penalties from Greig Laidlaw and Tommaso Allan saw the lead change hands three times in the last eight minutes before the Scots won 29-27.
For the fourth-successive year, seven of the 10 games not involving Italy saw winning margins within 10 points.
The average winning margin across all games last season was 14 – the lowest since 2013’s mark of 10.8, which was aided by a draw between Ireland and France.News Now - Sport News