Esportif Insight

The Winning Formula

Are there certain attributes teams possess that give them a winning advantage? Here we assess the winners from three of club rugby’s major tournaments in 2017-18.

By Josh Crane

International Experience

The Starting XV of Saracens, Leinster and Crusaders each feature over 10 senior internationals. To put this into context, the average Starting XV in the Premiership has 5.2 senior internationals. Furthermore, Saracens have the fewest total caps among their Starting XV, but they still on average have 26 caps per player. This rises to 30 caps per player for Crusaders and 33 caps per player for Leinster.

Age and Development
Despite each teams’ XVs international experience, this does not necessarily mean they have an ageing Starting XV – the average age across all three teams is 26.3 which is lower than the average across all teams in the three leagues at 27.5.

All three teams boast impressive numbers versus their league peers in terms of players coming from their academy into the Starting XV also. 12 (80%) of Leinster’s Starting XV are academy graduates, significantly more than the league average of 7.6. This is higher than Saracens’ 7 (47%); however, that in itself is still significantly higher than the Premiership average which stands at 3.8.

Domestic v Foreign Influence
Whilst there were more than 300 foreign players playing in the Premiership and PRO14 in the UK & Ireland in 2017-18 (131 of which are considered Starting XV players in our database), the Starting XV of Saracens, Leinster and Crusaders have 12, 14 and 15 domestic players in their Starting XV respectively.

In Super Rugby, the average number of domestic players (14) is almost equivalent to that of the Crusaders; however, when these are translated to domestic internationals, Crusaders have 11 internationals versus a league average of 7.6 players. The PRO14 averages 7.3 domestic internationals whilst this falls to 2.8 players in the Premiership, which in comparison to 14 at Leinster and 9 at Saracens these are both significantly less.

In the last 10 years, all three clubs have contested the knock-out stages of their domestic competition on all but one occasion, it would appear they’re doing something right.

*Note: Pro 14 excl. South Africa and Italy & Super Rugby excl. Japan & Argentina.