Lions Head-to-Head: Wales v England Stats

Before the Six Nations started, we highlighted a few key matches where Lions candidates would be going head-to-head, and with the help of Accenture’s match data, we can see how they went.

Second Row

With Alun Wyn Jones being tipped for the Lions captaincy, and England fans unable to decide which of their second row combinations is the best in the world, this was a key battle on Saturday in terms of Lions selection.

England Wales

The workrate of the English duo stands out here, leading the way both for Carries / Metres made in attack, and for successful tackles in defence. Overall possession in the match was split 50/50, so it really is comparing like for like.

Back Row

And here are the same stats for the back row units.

England Wales

This is really interesting to me in terms of the back row balance, which has been discussed on another post. You can see that the Wales combination have broadly similar stats across the board, with Moriarty lagging slightly by virtue of being substituted in the second half.

By contrast, England’s Nathan Hughes is way ahead of the others for carries and metres made, but Jack Clifford’s contribution here is almost non-existent. Clifford also hit fewer rucks and made fewer tackles than his back row colleagues, but in the ruck effectiveness stats (not shown here), Clifford was very high on 92%, ahead of Launchbury (91%) and Jake Ball (88%). Sam Warburton was the least effective on 63%, behind Nathan Hughes (64%), Jones (74%), Itoje (77%), Tipuric (78%) and Lawes (81%). Moriarty was the only player with 100% ruck effectiveness.

You can also see that the back row were not used as targets in any of England’s 9 lineouts, whilst Warburton and Tipuric caught 3 each, compared to 1 each for the locks, as above.

What do you make of the statistics? Does this affect which players you would pick for the Lions?

Thanks to Accenture for the statistics – follow @AccentureRugby or visit

Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James

11 thoughts on “Lions Head-to-Head: Wales v England Stats

      1. Okay, gotcha.
        I dunno, I think it tells an interesting story, especially looking at someone like Warburton – in theory was a lot less effective than everybody else at ruck time – compared to Tipuric.
        But then you also need to drill down into what the effective contributions actually were to determine how much influence a player had in the ruck I guess.

  1. These articles are really interesting. Wish Accenture had a better colour scheme though, poor Jack Clifford didn’t get much done from what I can see!

    Quite surprised they didn’t use Itoje in the lineout. That was in theory a major plus in having him at 6, the number of jumpers to aim for. I recall him taking plenty against France.

    1. Glad you like these articles. You can blame me for the colours, but not for Clifford’s lack of contribution!

      Agree on the lineout stats, I was surprised to see now back row takes either. England won 9 from 9, so can’t complain too much, but ball to the back might provide a better attacking platform.

      1. The lineout stats are interesting. I understand that Itoje was running the England line so it is interesting to see he called nothing to himself. If I recall rightly – and i’m sure there will be a stat somewhere – i don’t think he jumped against France either in the first half. Second half he seemed to take quite a lot of the ball.

        I wonder whether this is because the opposition defenders target Itoje in the line, which presumably frees up the other jumpers.

        1. With stats of 15/16 and 9/9 it looks like we are doing something right regardless of who is receiving the lineout ball

  2. I noticed Lawes and Maro flipped at scrum time between lock and blindside…. I guess that helped Lawes stats in the loose and tackle stats… AWJ seemed to br very effective in running dialogue with the ref during the first 40 which gave a strong case for lions selection, but after halftime he went silent… Overall im not convinced he’s a better lock than the English 4, Jonny Gray or Henderson…

    1. Agree on AWJ, and I thought his captaincy credentials suffered a setback on Saturday. And then, if he’s not there for his leadership, does he make the test squad, or even the tour?

  3. You’ve got to factor in AWJ’s (winning) Lions experience. I can’t believe he won’t tour.

    These stats are very revealing but obviously don’t tell the full story … context is everything, e.g. sometimes conceding a penalty at the ruck is the ‘right’ thing to do in defence so possibly shouldn’t be classified as ineffective.

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