The 2017/18 Premiership season is now over. Saracens have wrestled back the crown from the Exeter Chiefs, at another glorious final day at Twickenham. With the on-field action over, it is time to look at the Aviva Premiership statistics for an in-depth review of the season.
A big acknowledgement for these statistics goes to OPTA and Stuart Farmer Media Services. Note these are all based on the entire season including play-offs.
The top try scorer title was a hard-fought contest all season, and ultimately Josh Adams and Vereniki Goneva could not be separated on 13 tries each. A chasing pack of Byron McGuigan, Sam Simmonds, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde pushed them all the way, all scoring 12 each. Wade then joined Adams and Goneva with his score against Saracens in the semi final.
An interesting statistic in the try scoring table is, that Christian Wade scored ten tries at home – with only only three away. Whilst other Wasps wing Josh Bassett scored two at home but nine away! Were Wasps deliberately attacking down different wings home and away?
In addition, these 2017/18 tries for Wade also put him on course to break former teammate Tom Varndell’s all-time scoring record; he is now on 82 all-time Premiership tries. With Varndell having been released by Bristol, and not certain to be playing in the Premiership, a fit Wade is highly likely to break the record by the end of next season.
In terms of the top goal kickers, and amongst those taking 50 or more attempts, it was ‘Mr Dependable’ Gareth Steenson who claimed the most accurate boot, with an 87% success rate. Close behind were Rhys Priestland, AJ McGinty and Billy Twelvetrees. Surprisingly, Owen Farrell was behind the leading pack with a 78% success rate, although he did score the most overall points – 217 from only 15 appearances.
The Premiership has continued to attract new supporters, with matches taking place from Wembley, to St James’ Park, to Philadelphia, USA. With news sponsors Arthur J Gallagher & Co, the USA link is only going to strengthen; with Harlequins and Sale Sharks the next lucky teams likely to contest a fixture played in the USA next season.
The largest single attendance of the season was for ‘Big Game 10’ at Twickenham, where Harlequins beat Northampton 50-21 in front of 77,825. This was in fact, larger than the attendance for the Grand Final – which attracted 75,128 supporters.
Despite all the matches played at Twickenham, Wembley, or their rival fixtures, Leicester Tigers still ‘pulled in the most punters’. A cumulative season attendance of 251,667 at Welford Road. Sale Sharks were the least supported team in the league, with a cumulative attendance of 69,015.
Perhaps they will follow Newcastle’s route and borrow a football stadium from their local neighbours next season. Old Trafford regularly hosts Rugby League games, whilst England played at the Etihad Stadium during the 2015 World Cup. The Sharks have developed an entertaining brand of rugby that could potentially draw a big crowd at a showcase match….. and a full St James’ Park made Newcastle play just that much better!
Discipline is of course a vital component of a successful team, and those sides who have struggled helped to prove this true in 2017/18. Relegated London Irish had the most red cards (2 for Blair Cowan and David Paice). Unfortunately, they also had the worst penalty offender in former-All Black Ben Franks (35 conceded).
The Exiles’ tally of eight yellow cards was not disastrous though, with mid and lower table sides spending more time with 14 men. It was ‘surprise strugglers’ Harlequins (15) and Northampton (13) who were shown the most yellows. They were followed by Leicester (12) and Sale (11).
Of note: the Saints also had the biggest repeat offender in Ben Foden. He received four sin-bin orders over the course of his final season at the club.
Whilst the wingers and the kickers are the obvious heroes who score the points, the Aviva Premiership statistics also reveal the men who save and prevent points.
The Sale Sharks pack dominated the top tacklers chart, with Jono Ross (336), Ross Harrison (301) and Ben Curry (260) all making the top five. Gloucester’s flanker Lewis Ludlow led the chart for large parts of the season but can be very happy with his contribution of 329 tackles – over 100 more than his nearest teammate.
Looking at turnovers won, it was a different set of back rows who excelled in this area. Jamie Gibson and Dave Ward jointly led this chart with 19 each. These two were often talisman-like for their respective struggling teams, and surely prevented further harm with their defensive interventions.
The top ten were all forwards but the top 20 includes unsung back play from Kahn Fotuali’i (13), Olly Woodburn and Aled Brew (both 12). It is the ability to both smother and to also recover ball, that can help turn the tide and Aviva Premiership statistics show the importance of ‘good D’.
Finally a mention should go to Sione Kalamafoni of Leicester Tigers. He notched 324 carries, a full 65 ahead of second-best Ruan Ackermann. The Tongan certainly deserves a summer of rest.
Aviva Premiership Statistics reveal ‘best team’
Whilst the grand final was not quite the gladiatorial contest it could have been, this Premiership season has certainly been a fascinating spectacle. Saracens may have won the final but, who was representative within the best team?
Below us is a statistically-based example of the best team of the season; as ranked by Opta. This essentially represents the most impactful players over the season, and it is hard to imagine that regular Prem Rugby viewers of these players could argue too much with their selection.
XV – Here is @OptaJonny's 2017/18 Premiership Team of the Season, which features players from 10 different teams and ranks @samsimmonds_ as the top performer, it is based on our unique index system which awards players points for their actions in a game. Selection.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) May 30, 2018
Perhaps…. Eddie Jones should take note, given ten of this XV are English-qualified.
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