NatWest 6 Nations: Statistics shine a light on the key players

As another action-packed NatWest 6 Nations weekend thunders towards us, many supporters have already witnessed some impressive performances by their nation’s stars.

As another action-packed NatWest 6 Nations weekend thunders towards us, many supporters have already witnessed some impressive performances by their nation’s stars.

Some of these performances have been clear for all to see – France captain Guilhem Guirado’s record-breaking 31 tackles against Ireland or Conor Murray’s four try assists thus far.

But when we delve into the statistics in detail we see some new stars emerge, and here we take a look into those trends.

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Over the course of the history of the Championship, Ireland have been blessed with plenty of classy wingers, Tommy Bowe and Shane Horgan spring easily to mind.

But over the last 12 months some youthful faces have been blooded in the back three and now Jacob Stockdale has scored four tries to become the Championship’s top try-scorer, seizing his opportunity with both hands.

Looking at the statistics the 21-year-old offers much more than finishing touches, as he is included in the top five of no less than five key statistics from the first three rounds.

The Ulster man is second in the metres gained statistic (244), has made the second-most amount of line breaks (six) and is also second in the offloads chart with five.

Stockdale has also made 36 carries and beaten nine defenders to feature in the top five of those statistics, which all point towards the youngster possessing of a potent all-round game.

Ireland will also no doubt be pleased to see two of their other players topping the charts – Bundee Aki leads the way in defenders beaten with 12, whilst CJ Stander has made a whopping 58 carries, 15 ahead of his nearest competitor.

Metres gained Stuart Hogg 252 Jacob Stockdale 244 Steff Evans 222 Matteo Minozzi 212 Jonny May 187

Linebreaks Jonny May 7 Jacob Stockdale 6 Steff Evans 6 Huw Jones 6   Offloads Yacouba Camara 6 Keith Earls 6 Aaron Shingler 5 Jacob Stockdale 5 Remy Grosso 4 Gareth Anscombe 4 Wenceslas Lauret 4 Matteo Minozzi 4 Steff Evans 4   NEW AZZURRI LEADERS That same statistic, carries made, leads us on to another new star for his country – Sebastian Negri – who is second to Stander in those rankings with 43.

The young flanker, just 23, has caught many observer’s eyes in the first three rounds and the numbers back up the view that Negri has got through a mountain of work – he’s also beaten ten defenders so far, second only to Aki.

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse has long been hailed for leading his country in the Championship but the statistics show that we could be seeing the emergence of a new Azzurri stalwart.

And it’s not just in the forwards that we have seen Italy achieve success, Matteo Minozzi’s quick feet have been a highlight of their matches and have yielded the back-three man two tries.

The 21-year-old has also claimed 212 metres, beaten nine defenders and made four offloads to make the top five of those statistics, expect to see a lot more of him in future.

Carries CJ Stander 58 Sebastian Negri 43 Bundee Aki 41 Jonny May 37 Dan Leavy 36 Stuart Hogg 36 Steff Evans 36 Jacob Stockdale 36   Defenders beaten Bundee Aki 12 Sebastian Negri 10 Anthony Watson 10 Huw Jones 10 Teddy Thomas 9 Matteo Minozzi 9 Jacob Stockdale 9   WALES’ BACK ROW

Wales have long been blessed with outstanding back-row players in the shape of Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

But in the first three rounds we have already witnessed the emergence of some new stars in this area – Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi have both impressed many and once again the numbers back this view up.

Scarlets man Shingler is included in no less than four of the rankings of top performers so far – he is second in lineouts won (11) and offloads (five), whilst also stealing two lineouts and making 47 tackles, fourth on the list across the Championship.

The 30-year-old has been ably assisted by openside Navidi, and assist is the word as the Cardiff Blues man has made two, both against Ireland, whilst also getting through 56 tackles – second only to Guirado.   Lineouts won Devin Toner 12 Aaron Shingler 11 Courtney Lawes 11 Peter O’Mahony 11 Yacouba Camara 10   Assists Conor Murray 4 Finn Russell 3 Owen Farrell 2 Danny Care 2 Greig Laidlaw 2 Josh Navidi 2 Jonny May 2   Tackles Guilhem Guirado 57 Josh Navidi 56 Jonny Gray 53 Aaron Shingler 47 Chris Robshaw 44