England not a 'boring' rugby team

Last updated 05:00 05/01/2014
Courtney Lawes
FIELD ACTION: England's Courtney Lawes, right, is tackled by Argentina's Eusebio Guinazu.

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In New Zealand "Pommie bashing" is pretty popular and criticising England for playing boring rugby appears to be a patriotic duty.

But what is the premise for such criticism? Is it merely an aesthetic perceptive or can it be proved statistically that England plays boring rugby?

A good way to measure the excitement of a rugby team is by the number of tries they score per game.

At present the All Blacks are undeniably the best and most attractive team in world rugby. Since 2011 they have played 40 test matches with 36 wins, and scored 161 tries - an average of 4.02 tries a game. By contrast England has only scored 83 tries in their last 35 internationals. So that's it, England is boring.


Deeper investigation reveals some interesting numbers. In 42 tests since 2011, Australia has scored 92 tries, an average of 2.19 a game. England's per-game average is slighter higher at 2.37 and Kiwis don't typically label Australia boring.

Furthermore, in the last three years, England has been the most prolific try-scoring team in the Six Nations and we don't necessarily associate all the Six Nations countries as boring.

In the last three years South Africa, who has scored 94 tries in 33 tests, is the only major country, apart from New Zealand, with a better try scoring strike-rate than England. Often South Africa is labelled boring by the New Zealand rugby public too.

Even more interesting is a comparison between the All Blacks of the last three years and the all-conquering English teams from 2001-2003. In 37 tests in that period, England won 34 times and scored 175 tries.

We Kiwis might complain that England's tally is boasted by the fact they scored a lot of tries against weak opposition. In 2002 for example England scored 20 tries in a 134-0 romp of Romania.

However New Zealand has also punished some hapless opposition; the All Blacks have scored 21 tries in two tests against Japan from 2011-2013.

Between 2001 and 2003, England scored a single try or less in a game ten times. The All Blacks have scored two tries or less in 15 of their 40 games since 2011.

The All Blacks of 2001-2003 scored 166 tries in 35 tests, an average of 4.74 a game. England in the same period averaged 4.72 tries a game.

Obviously, really boring teams win the World Cup.

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