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Watson: Stats reveal it all

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Statistically, Luke Watson is currently the form player of the world.
That’s according to the measure of the fantasyrugby.com, a website that offers rugby fans to select a Super 14 team, which is then measured by points based on the statistical performance of its players.

Players are given points for tries scored, goals kicked, tackles made, defenders beaten, turnovers won, clean lineouts as well as providing assistance in another’s scoring of a try.

Points are deducted for a missed goal kick, ball turned over to opposition and penalties conceded.

Watson is the player who amassed the most points in this year’s Super 14.

Watson has been rated the top loose forward before in the competition, and this year saw him become the most valuable player to select in your own personal fantasy team.

For the statistically-minded Springbok coach Jake White this perhaps confirms that there are more than rugby issues steering the current controversy around the national camp in Bloemfontein.

A look at the points table reveals that New Zealand players came off worse, probably because their star players were only playing half of the competition.

But this does not change the fact that out of five full-strength South African sides, Watson broke and made more tackles, scored more tries and won more turnovers than any other.

The only player that could challenge his statistical throne is Cheetahs loose forward Juan Smith, who, whilst falling behind Watson first and Matfield second on the total points table, because of injury-enforced match absences, did have a higher points average per game.

Perhaps the obvious weakness of these rankings is the fact that creative and personal value to the team is immeasurable in statistics, but the boom in credence given to player statistics, championed by Sir Clive Woodward of England, is something which has always driven player performance.

Other players shown to be top performers were Vicotr Matfield, who, along with Corniel van Zyl and Gary Botha was top tight forward performer, as well as Stormers fly-half Peter Grant, whose intense game involvement was rewarded by being placed as the top performer amongst the backs, ahead of Matt Giteau and Stephen Donald.

Much, of course, is dependent on the player remaining injury-free, but in age which player injury costs unions money, such a quality is not to be under-estimated.

Mose Tuali’i, who himself is knocking on the door of All Black inclusion, and has already been capped unlike Watson, was the top New Zealand performer, along with Daniel Braid, Troy Flavell, Stephen Donald and Ross Filipo.

Oregan Hoskins, the President of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) who vetoed Jake White’s initial selection and added the name of Luke Watson to the Springboks’ first training squad of the year. has, despite demonstrating some inadequacies with handling the media, continuously justified his decsion by saying that the Presidency’s concern has always been that Watson is being excluded because of a personal vendetta and not for rugby issues. Hoskins believed that finally his hand was forced.

Such a statistic as this, may just be the kind of ammunition Hoskins requires as the embattled President fights off his detractors for his interference in squad selection.

365 Digital

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