All numbers in All Blacks' favour - except score

01:43, Jan 31 2009
TRY TIME: France's Thierry Dusautoir evades New Zealand's Leon MacDonald and Carl Hayman to score a crucial second half try.

Just how did the All Blacks lose their World Cup quarter-final at Cardiff? So one-sided were the official statistics in the All Blacks' favour against France it makes it even more remarkable they didn't win the game with plenty to spare.

Summary statistics obtained from the match analysts at Palmerston North company Verusco reveal the match had an extraordinarily low tackle count of 73 by the All Blacks, against the normal 100.

That's because the All Blacks had such a wealth of possession.

New Zealand made only 57 tackles in the quarterfinal and missed 16 while the French made 269 and missed 62.

The All Blacks had control of the ball at a mammoth 162 rucks, the biggest tally in any of the 48 games played at the World Cup. The French ruck count was only 35.

The All Blacks were penalised 11 times and the French only twice and the only two penalties issued in the second half went the way of the French.


The two penalties awarded against France were the lowest recorded per team at World Cups since they started in 1987.

Statistics usually show defending teams are penalised frequently for players coming in the side of rucks or for hands in rucks.

These ones show the French either had amazing discipline or they weren't caught transgressing by English referee Wayne Barnes.

And when the All Blacks put the ball through 38 continuous phases, the sequence lasted 4min 53sec, the highest Verusco has ever counted.

So the All Blacks lost the match despite having a huge number of attacking phases, a high ruck count and a low tackle count.

The All Blacks did infringe 20 times (in terms of penalties, free- kicks, knock-ons, forward passes) against seven times by the French.

The official possession data shows the All Blacks had 66 percent of the ball and 60 percent of territory, 73 and 72 percent respectively in the second half.

In terms of time in the opposition 22, Graham Henry's men had 28 percent to the French 9 percent, more than three times and yet the French defence held tight.

Even with the imbalance, the playing time was the greatest ever recorded in the seven years Verusco has been analysing rugby matches.

The "active time" was 45min 13sec, way above the average of 35 to 37 minutes, so that should have favoured the All Blacks who like to keep play continuous.

Verusco has analysed 1500 games since 2000. It recently analysed an Australian Rugby Championship game played under the new rules and which had only 24 minutes of active time - but there were 16 tries with stoppages after each.

Manawatu Standard