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Another Myth Debunked

November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morne Steyn is often viewed as an attacker’s dream, a revolving door when it comes to defence while Peter Grant and and Johan Goosen are regarded as rocks on defence. But is this fact or fiction?

I decided to have a look at this year’s Super Rugby stats to see whether these perceptions hold any water and looked at the main SA flyhalves’ performance on defence*. I’m sure you will agree these figures make for interesting reading.

*In the case of Pat Lambie I included the games when he started at fullback as well
Stats compiled from

Most tackles attempted:

Peter Grant – 172
Morne Steyn – 167

Most tackles missed:

Peter Grant – 37
Elton Jantjies – 37

Most tackles per game:

Peter Grant – 10.8
Morne Steyn – 9.8

Least tackles per game:

Pat Lambie – 6.8
Johan Goosen – 7.7

Best missed tackle percentage

Morne Steyn – 15 % – Myth busted!

Worst missed tackle percentage:

Elton Jantjies – 28.2% – Myth confirmed

Stats:Flyhalf tackle stats


Morne Steyn: During the 2012 Super Rugby Morne Steyn was not only one of the hardest working defenders amongst the flyhalves, he was also the best defender by a country mile – Myth busted

Peter Grant: While Grant puts in a lot of tackles he also misses a lot but his defence is inline with the average SA flyhalf’s defence. He is by no means the rock on defence – Myth busted

Pat Lambie: Lambie attempts the least tackles of all the South African flyhalves and the quality of his defence is only average. Considering that the Sharks made and attempted the most tackles, 3106 and 3553 respectively) of all the Super Rugby teams the stats indicate that he isn’t pulling his weight on defence. Myth busted

Johan Goosen: With only 7.7 tackles per game Goosen is another flyhalf who doesn’t pull his weight when it comes to defence and his tackle success is only average. Myth busted

Elton Jantjies: While Jantjies attempts a lot more tackles than his younger counterparts he is definitely the worst defender of the lot, missing nearly 30% of his tackles. This is an area he will have to work on next year and hopefully the Stormers strong defensive system and coaching will improve this weak area of his game. Myth confirmed

25 responses to Another Myth Debunked

  1. Hmmm.. Interesting stats. BUT one can’t always believe them. I remember listening/watching a rugby show before where they used stats from 2 different sources for the same game, and they were completely different!
    It really is hard to believe that M. Steyn is a better tackler than Lambie. Lambie always goes in low whereas Steyn is too often bumped off cause he goes in high and tries to grab onto a jersey.
    Anyways, its concerning that jantjies is missing so many tackles. Hopefully he’ll learn something about defence from WP..

  2. I’m glad to see at least one of the bloggers writing at least one positive feature of Morne.. Obviously defensive stats is not equivalent to the full game performance but it is still a measurable statistic detail, like kicking percentage ect..

    It is very funny how some will never be able to take an objective look on an issue at hand, especially when it comes to Morne or some other Bulls players. “Boks and Morne is playing bad – Morne’s fault he must be dropped.” “Boks and another fly-half are playing bad – HM fault, he must be dropped” (it can’t be the fly-half obviously). “Morne kicking percentage is bad – stats don’t lie”, “Mornes has the least missed tackles – stats don’t mean anything, the fly-half isn’t there to tackle, the other team mates take care of that”.

    I do agree that it was right to drop Morne, because he simply needed a rest and wasn’t on form – but positives need to be acknowledged when it’s due even if you wouldn’t like Morne or the Bulls.

    Thanks for Baylion for an objective analysis.

  3. Morne doesnt tackle.

    Its called a tackle in the stats, but what he really does is a Judo throw. A consequence of this is that since he loses about 3-4 metres before he gets a decent grip, and then concedes another 2 thanks to the way he makes the “tackle” the ball-carrying player will always be over the advantage line. This means the rest of the defensive line has to backpeddle, which exposes them to quick ball.

    Grant on the other hand does slip off a lot of tackels, but that probably has something to do with the way Wp approach the defense versus the Bulls. When De Wet Barry was a defensive force in his prime, he said that its not the inside back’s job to tackle the big boys back, but rather to stop and hold them till the loose forwards arrive to assist.

    You will often see Grant making the initial hit, holding the player up, and then a forward joins the tackle. Before the tackle goes to ground Grant will release and rejoin the defensive line. Province tackle in such a way that they keep the opposition player on his feet as long as possible, so that the defensive line can reset.

    A more important stat (which only a franchise team will give you) is how many linebreaks have been conceded by each flyhalf.

    • Seriously? You actually believe this dribble?

      BTW, the “new” tackle method used by most SA teams, whenever possible, is to tackle the ball rather than the man, often losing some territory in an attempt to hold up the ball and win a scrum from the use-it-or-lose-it maul law.

      • which part?

        Morras’ tackle technique and meters conceded versus Grant? Or the Stormers mentality?

        The Stormers talk about momentumstopping D. What is the average metres gained on phase ball in Grant’s channel versus Morne’s?

        Morne’s technique is against everything your saying, since he does the judo throw.

        • The part where Grant’s missed tackles aren’t really missed tackles and where Morne’s tackles aren’t really tackles.

  4. BTW, Lambie had a good defensive game against England – 18 tackles and on 2 misses.

  5. It is funny that every TV commentator and journalist sees things differently from your stats.
    Morne is an ‘after the action’ tackler, not a prime tackler. Most of the time he is seen flapping his hands at the player running at him. He went to the Naas Botha tackling school.
    I would rather have Lambie tackling for me, if my life depended on it than MS….. anytime. He is fearless and goes low whereas MS goes high and is ineffectual.
    There are lies , damn lies and then there are statistics.

    • You can use stats to prove anything depending how you wash and weight it. And in the end, if the stats don’t prove your point you can either ignore it or say that it doesn’t take any of a wide array of factors into account.

  6. Your stats raise more questions than you have attempted to address here. For example, who were these fly-halves tackling – was it a loose forward in the fly-half channel, the blindside wing, or the opposition fly-half? You need to know what the field position was – was it on his own tryline or in the opposition 22? Were missed tackles ‘rectified’, a la Johnny Wilkinson on Frans Steyn in the 2007 World Cup Final.

    These are just 3 of the many questions that need to be answered before these bald statistics can confirm or refute anything. In fact, it seems extremely possible, given your emphatic conclusions based on these scant numbers, that you had made up your mind before you did the research, and then found the stats to validate your own opinion, thereby perpetuating your own myths.

    I will be quoting your unreliable stats in false science and bad journalism discussions, not your tackle stats in rugby discussions.

  7. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to be eaten by a shark than killed in a plane crash. What has this got to do with this thread? Well, the fact that apparently Morne Steyn is a better defender than Patrick Lambie, based on the statistics, is a clear indication that statistics actually should be interpreted in context by those qualified to do so. The fact that Mnr Lion is NOT a statistician is self-evident because merely taking what you want from the stats to support your own personal bias is neither accurate nor credible. Rugby games can be won, and indeed HAVE been won by sides who had far less possession and territorial advantage, statistically speaking. Statistics can NOT be used to assess skill sets and ability. If they were then the world would be governed by leaders who obtained a 90% + average at school, graduated cum laude from university (again, 90%+) and who were Fortune 500 businessmen. This is a non-story. And a load of twaddle.

  8. Do you remember when Morne Steyn was taken from the bench (the first time he appeared in a test) and kicked 2 of the most difficult conversions which won the series against the last Lions side that toured here? also when he kicked 18 points in the Springbok victory of 18 – 0 over the All Blacks at Port Elizabeth.

  9. Kickoff is in 90 mins time – under all the media criticism of the last week and the supposed U turns of HM and his side kick one Riccardo Loubscher I pray that the mental and emotional state of the players has not been brutilised – I pray that they have re-ignited self-belief, a binding team spirit, a will to play for one another, a harmony to glue cohesion, and a trust to play as a team and not seek individual glory at the expense of the team.
    During the anthem wonder what thoughts and feelings will be behind those faces.

  10. very interresting indeed!!! if Steyn kicked all his goals for the Boks this year the Boks would or could have won both the games they drew and won some of the ones they lost. He more than likely would still be starting and people would say “his the old rock solid Steyn”, but it was not to be and now Lambie and jantjies must take their chance and shine.

  11. I can’t see the whole table, especially the missed tackle % which is usually more indicative of defensive prowess than total tackles. Remember that an individual player’s defense is largely dependant on the team’s systems. You would also see in those stats that Marcell Coetzee was one of the top tacklers in the Super Rugby for the Sharks, so no need for the backline to make the tackles if the forwards make them, especially at full back.

  12. Nice one, Goosen didn’t need to tackle as much because the Cheetahs were attacking the whole time. ;)

    • Agree, the Cheetahs don’t belief in defence :)

      • Well, if you want to say that, you will need to pin the whole team’s stats against each other.

        The Cheetahs might believe in defence, there just aren’t any structures in place to impiment it, that is hardly a single player’s fault, but rather the coaching staff.

  13. Oom Bay, can you debunk another myth for me re Morne Steyn, as you appear the master of stats?
    I am of the oppinion that Morne has the highest winning % as starting flyhalf against the All Blacks in the history of WORLD rugby. Can you come up with any other international flyhalf with a better winnijng % against the All Blacks?

    • Actually he is 6th of the Boks with 44.44% (4 from 9). Springboks Hansie Brewis with 100% (4 from 4), Piet Visagie and Gerald Bosch with 75% (3 from 4), Henri Honiball with 66.66% (4 from 6) and Bennie Osler with 50.00% (2 from 4) all did better.

      Although in one of Steyn’s tests he started at fullback, so at flyhalf he’s 4 from 8 or 50%

      International players who did better:

      EJ Flatley (Aust) 3 from 5 60.00%
      SJ Larkham (Aust) 10 from 20 50.00%
      T Lawton (Aust) 4 from 8 50.00%

      I didn’t count players with less than 4 games.

      BTW, we’ve only won one of the last five tests against the All Blacks that he played in and, while it is unfair to point to a single player, his “match winner” epitaph, as far as tests against the All Blacks are concerned, only applied to 2009

  14. maybe Lambie didn’t need to make as many tackles because the rest of the sharks defense was doing it? fucking Lambie basher

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