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The absurd Gloucester lineout stat they take into this weekend

By Kim Ekin

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It’s no secret that tries from lineout mauls – for good or for ill – have never been more popular in professional rugby union.

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When executed well, they are nearly impossible to stop, and while as a spectacle they’re less than attractive to all but the most hardening purist, the practice has reached epidemic proportions.

One startling stat that illustrates the phenomenon in the Gallagher Premiership belongs to Gloucester.

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The Cherry and Whites have scored 79 per cent of their tries this season following a lineout, the highest such ratio of any team in the Premiership in 2021/22.

Basically speaking, four in five tries Gloucester scores are from lineouts.

George Skivington’s men have scored an average of 2.4 tries per game in that fashion, a joint-high in the league this term, which they share with Leicester Tigers and Saracens [number 1 and 2 on the Premiership standings currently).

It’s a remarkable if slightly depressing statistic and one that speaks to the lack of tries scored from running rugby in the modern game. That’s not to have a pop at Gloucester per say, who can’t be blamed for using a technique that works for them. Rather it’s a criticism of a game that is rewarding so heavily that particular setpiece.

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The flip side of that of course is that if you nullify their lineout maul, you’ve effectively eliminated their primary source of points.

Gloucester are doing other things excellently. Back row duo Lewis Ludlow (120) and Freddie Clarke (117) rank first and second respectively for successful tackles this season to date.  They are two of just four players to have made 100+ tackles this campaign [Ben Earl, 107; and Tom Willis, 100; also broke a century of tackles].

Struggling Bristol, on the other hand, have been showing what can be achieved with running rugby. The Bears have run an average of 799 metres per game with the ball, the most of any team in the Premiership in 2021/22; only Exeter Chiefs (134) and London Irish (126) have made more carries per game than the Bears in the league this season (114).

Pat Lam’s men have made the second-most passes per game in the league this season (177.5), while only Exeter Chiefs have made more than them (178.4); Bears have made the most offloads per game of any team in the league this term (12.3).

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Bristol do have a significant edge in recent games between the two teams. The Bears have won their last five Premiership games against Gloucester, this after the Cherry and Whites had won seven of the previous eight meetings between the sides.

Opta Stats

 

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