THE NEW ZEALAND Rugby Union’s Senior Scientist, Ken Quarrie, has completed a study which analyses goal kicking success in the international game from 2002 to 2011.
Quarrie, who first came on board with the NZRU in 2000 as Injury Prevention Manager, has previously undertaken important projects on tackle injuries and spinal scrum-related problems.
His latest study examined 582 international Test matches over 10 seasons, with place kickers ranked on a raw success percentage basis that was then altered to take into account the location of the kick on the pitch, the stadium in which the player was kicking and the context of the kick itself [the time in the game and the score].
South African out-half Morne Steyn came out on top of the list, with Federico Todeschini of Argentina and Dan Carter of New Zealand placing in second and third respectively.
The highest-ranked Irish kicker was David Humphreys in 16th, who kicked at an 80% success rate over 113 attempts at goal. Ronan O’Gara came in at 35th with a conversion rate of 72% from 352 efforts from the tee.
Paddy Wallace lies 40th overall, having kicked 77% of his 22 attempts as a place kicker for Ireland, while Jonny Sexton is ranked 91st on Quarrie’s list with a 59.6% success rate from 62 attempts over 17 games.
The study also outlined the best kickers under pressure, with Australian James O’Connor topping that area ahead of Steyn and fellow Wallaby Stirling Mortlock. O’Connor’s actual success rate was 70%, but that figure rose to 76% in ‘clutch’ kicking situations.
Source: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
From an Irish point of view, Ronan O’Gara came in 40th on the list of kicks under pressure with a return rate of 73%, while Sexton rocketed up the rankings to 43rd with a success rate of 73% too.
Humphreys dropped to 87th when ranked on those ‘clutch’ scenarios, while Paddy Wallace was in 52nd.
Quarrie’s fascinating study also outlines the stadiums in which place kicking had the worst success rates, with Westpac Stadium in New Zealand topping the list. Ireland’s Lansdowne Road was ninth in the rankings, with a return rate of 71% for kickers over the decade in question.
The top 10 place kickers overall
1. Morne Steyn [South Africa]
2. Federico Todeschini [Argentina]
3. Dan Carter [New Zealand]
4. Francois Steyn [South Africa]
5. Chris Paterson [Scotland]
6. Gavin Henson [Wales]
7. Jonny Wilkinson [England]
8. Dan Parks [Scotland]
9. Toru Kurihara [Japan]
10. Seremaia Baï [Fiji]
To find out more and to view the rankings spreadsheet, visit the All Blacks’ official website.