Terms for Evaluating Possession

Gillies Kaka and Tom Bowen race for possession © World Rugby
Gillies Kaka and Tom Bowen race for possession © World Rugby

This post will outline some of the main statistics you’ll see on this site. In particular, I’m attempting to provide clarity with regards to possessing the ball. In my opinion, rugby possession isn’t as clearly defined as in many other sports and the possession sources vary greatly. These different sources yield different expectations of scoring and, as such, should be evaluated differently. Some statistics that I use require detailed explanation. Some of these stats I devised myself and they are still developing as I think about and apply them.
Continue reading “Terms for Evaluating Possession”

Reconsidering Sevens Assumptions


My desire to gather more descriptive rugby sevens statistics began when I was coaching the University of Michigan. We had been invited to participate in the Collegiate Rugby Championship in June 2014 and had about six months to educate ourselves on sevens after our fall fifteens season. We’d played a few tournaments but had never dedicated significant time to sevens. Although I had strategies and techniques from my time as a player I saw a greater variety in other teams. I was never satisfied blindly allocating team practice time without a decent answer to the question, “Why?”. So I started trying to answer that for sevens.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing with advanced sport statistics, mostly in baseball and college football. The dearth of rugby statistics, fifteens and sevens, to this day still surprises. I understand they are both complex, fluid games but there is next to nothing available. Most statistics are taken by individual professional teams with few accepted industry standards. Their statistics are not public for vetting by interested fans. The Aviva Premiership offers some team statistics for their matches but provides little league-wide context. If a team had 212 passes in a game is that a lot or not a lot? Does it matter? If they rucked at 96% for the match should that be celebrated or looked at as a point of improvement? Super Rugby doesn’t even offer these statistics. Where is the baseball-reference.com of rugby?
Continue reading “Reconsidering Sevens Assumptions”