HONG KONG - While statistics can sometimes be misleading, some from this season's HSBC Sevens World Series paint an interesting picture of how certain teams have performed in the first five rounds.
Defence - tackle rate - France's new-found appetite for the Sevens game this season is in no small part down to their newly professional outlook, and that has manifested itself mainly in their defensive effort. So far this season, the French have the highest percentage of completed tackles.
FRA - 582 tackles - 86% success
NZL - 549 - 84%
RSA - 539 - 84%
SAM - 472 - 83%
URU - 18 - 83%
Restart - With possession so crucial in Rugby Sevens, the aerial battle at the restart has become one of the key areas in the game, and also one where certain players can specialise. Samoa's Lio Lolo has filled the gap left by Simaika Mikaele, while for the USA former grid iron wide receiver Zach Test is still among the finest. Both will have had a significant impact on the season's current 'restarts retained' charts.
SAM - 92 restarts - 33% retained
USA - 72 - 31%
ENG - 93 - 30%
SCO - 80 - 26%
ESP - 81 - 26%
The Breakdown - A key aspect of the 15-man game, the breakdown is also hugely significant in Rugby Sevens and is far more transparent to the referee, commentator and spectator because fewer bodies crowd the ball. This season the referees are enforcing a zero-tolerance policy in 'sealing off', ensuring players contesting possession stay on their feet and can support their own body weight.
RSA - 58 won - 25 lost = +33 differential
NZL - 36 - 24 = +12
FIJ - 24 - 13 = +11
FRA - 32 - 22 = +10
SCO - 33 - 28 = +5
Passes per game - The number of passes a team makes does not necessarily determine how successful t is, but it does shed light its approach to the game. On average this season, Fiji have made the lowest number of passes per match (24.1), four less than the next lowest (France with 28.3) - both teams perhaps relying on running from deep and the pick-and-drive.
SAM - 984 - 36.4 average per match
NZL - 1014 - 36.2
WAL - 941 - 34.9
SCO - 870 - 33.5
AUS - 847 - 32.6
Scoring - strike rates - Arguably the most important stats of all are those which show how potent a team is in attack, and how clinically the players take their chances and turn territorial pressure into points. One key statistic is a team's ratio of tries per visit to the opponent's 22 and in this key statistic Canada lead the way with 72%, while Argentina are currently last with 50%.
CAN - 78 tries - from 108 visits to opp's 22 - 72% success rate.
RSA - 94 - 130 - 72%
FJI - 85 - 119 - 71%
KEN - 67 - 95 - 71%
NZL - 96 - 137 - 70%
Finally, another interesting gauge relating to tactics is the ratio of rucks contested to tries scored. This stat shows Portugal working hardest for their tries with (5.2) rucks for each of their 44 tries, while Fiji have contested by far the least.
FIJ - 90 rucks - 85 tries - 1.1 ruck per try
ENG - 155 - 80 - 1.9
NZL - 203 - 96 - 2.1
RSA - 248 - 94 - 2.6
CAN - 213 - 78 - 2.7