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A Retrospective analysis of the IRB statistics and video analysis of match play to explain the performance of four teams in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

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A retrospective analysis of performance during the Rugby Union World Cup 2003 was conducted by comparing data from the top three nations with data from South Africa (SA). Differences were observed between the four teams in three performance variables; number of penalty kicks and drop goals scored, and percentage possession. England scored more points from penalty kicks and drop goals. SA had less percentage possession than either England or New Zealand. SA's scoring opportunities began more frequently from inside the opposition's territory (86% of all scoring movements). Possession was most frequently lost when the movement began inside SA's territory (55% of all movements in which possession was lost). The duration for which possession was retained was greater for movements that resulted in points (21.9 ± 14.5 s), than where possession was turned over (14.8 ± 5.2 s) (P< 0.05). Points were scored against SA 24 times, 58% in the second half and 71% of the scores against SA occurred the next play after SA had lost possession. These data suggest that superior performance in World Cup rugby is linked to possession retained, the number of points scored in the second half and the propensity to lose possession in areas of the field from which the opposition is likely to score.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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