The 2019 Guinness Six Nations continued at a frantic pace this weekend as England and Wales made it two wins from two while Ireland bounced back in style in Scotland.
Last year’s Grand Slam champions kicked off the weekend by handing Scotland a first home defeat in the Championship since 2016 before Wales triumphed over Italy in Rome.
And on Sunday England made it back-to-back bonus-point wins as they powered past France at Twickenham.
With Round Two now done and dusted, official Championship statistic providers AWS (Amazon Web Services) have crunched the numbers from all three games.
Here are ten of the most fascinating statistics:
England had clearly decided to use their kicking game early and often, and no one kicked further than Owen Farrell. The England skipper kicked a barely believable 589.3 metres in total, nearly double Morgan Parra’s 306.4 metres in second. It should come as little surprise that England kicked more ball than any other team this weekend, turning to the boot on 15 percent of their possession. Only France, at 10.1 percent, got into double figures of the other five teams.
After a fairly even first half, Scotland found themselves starved of possession for much of the second half against Ireland, and that showed in the tackle counts. The Scots finished with the top five tacklers in Round Two with tireless defensive displays from Josh Strauss (29), Grant Gilchrist (28), Allan Dell (25), Jonny Gray (25) and Jamie Ritchie (23). Unsurprisingly they also led the way in terms of dominant tackles, although Tom Curry’s seven was behind only Strauss on eight.
As Warren Gatland enters his final year in charge of Wales he has overseen a record-equalling 11 Test victories, the latest coming away in Rome, 26-15 against Italy. That matches the previous best set back in 1910 and Wales be able to set a new mark when they welcome England to Cardiff in Round Three. Victory would also guarantee a full 12 months unbeaten for the Welsh.
England have made a remarkable habit of scoring early tries over recent months, with Jonny May continuing that trend when he dotted down after 66 seconds against France. That is now five successive Tests in which England have scored a try inside three minutes. The last three have come from May, against Australia, Ireland and now France. The last time England did not sure an early try? Against South Africa in November when they were held try-less for the whole 80 minutes. Wales have been warned!
On a difficult afternoon for France, one man who came out with some credit was scrum-half Antoine Dupont, who impressed off the bench. The Toulouse youngster was only on the field for 34 minutes, but finished with the most line breaks of any player (3), the most offloads (4), the second most tackle breaks (2) and 90.7 metres carried, good enough for fifth overall.
Jayden Hayward enjoyed a fine day with ball in hand against Scotland but against Wales on Saturday he played a slightly different game. In terms of his tactical kicking though, no one shifted field position further. The Italy full-back averaged 48 metres per kick, comfortably clear of Rob Kearney (43.4) for the most powerful kicker from hand of the round.
Deprived of Devin Toner, Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson, Joe Schmidt turned to Quinn Roux to partner James Ryan in the second row. The Connacht lock did not disappoint, with his work at the ruck particularly impressive. He racked up 25 cleanouts, which put him six clear of the next best in Round Two, his own skipper Rory Best and England flanker Mark Wilson.
On the subject of Mark Wilson, it is worth noting how influential he has been over the first two weeks of the Championship. He managed 42 tackles and cleanouts in Round Two a week after he notched 40 tackles and cleanouts against Ireland.
One of the most notable stats this weekend came in Le Crunch where France racked up 905.9 metres carried, comfortably the most of any team in the Championship so far. That was nearly 250 metres more than England, and yet it was Eddie Jones’ side who ran out 44-8 winners. The English managed similar a week ago when they were outgained 791-553 by Ireland while claiming a bonus-point success.
If there was any more proof required of the importance of lineouts in the modern game, this weekend provided it, with 40 percent of tries coming from lineouts. The most eye-catching was Jacob Stockdale’s score against Scotland, a clever set-play designed by Joe Schmidt to put the winger away on the second phase. It’s also interesting to see that 47.4 percent of line breaks led to tries this weekend, nine in total.