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August 9, 2017

2017 Super Rugby team of the Year

2017 Super Rugby team of the Year

The line-up for the 2017 Super Rugby Team of the Season appears a strong one. Each player is in the squad on merit, with all of them registering some impressive stats throughout the season, be it for their specific position or across the competition as a whole, and on paper it makes a formidable team.

However, great Super Rugby teams are not made on paper, and the absence of players from this season’s top team the Crusaders is sure to cause some debate. The fact that there are no Crusaders players in the team perhaps typifies the cliché that the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts, with the Christchurch side boasting a team that works well as a unit rather than relying on standout performances of a few members to get them across the line. 

That is not to say that the Crusaders did not have some top performing players though. This season’s champions boasted three different players to be named ‘Player of the Week’, more than any other team; the Chiefs and Lions were both represented three times overall in the PoTW, however this was due to Damian McKenzie and Jaco Kriel being the standout performer twice – the Crusaders had three unique players manage that feat (Israel Dagg, George Bridge and David Havili).

The Super Rugby team of the season was made up from the top scorers in the Opta Index [see below for full detasils], based on their average per 80-minute tally, with only players who had accumulated at least 800 minutes eligible for selection. Within the backs, although the Crusaders didn’t have any players in the overall team of the season, six of their players ranked within the top 32 backs, two more than any other team, showing their consistency across the board.

There were some near misses in the pack too, with All Black Codie Taylor being the unluckiest to miss out, due to the fact that Malcolm Marx was the top scoring forward overall, while Matt Todd scored highly but was behind the impressive Ardie Savea for the #7 jersey.

 

15

Damian McKenzie

Chiefs

Damian McKenzie is the Player of the Season for the second year running. The Chiefs' number 15 was top of the charts for carries, metres and defenders beaten this season, while he also ranked in the top three for clean breaks and points scored.

14

Cheslin Kolbe

Stormers

Only two players beat more defenders this season than Kolbe (58), whose rate of a defender beaten every 1.7 carries was better than any other player to make over 30 carries. Kolbe also scored the joint third most tries of any player in the SA Conference (9).

13

Samu Kerevi

Reds

Kerevi beat 57 defenders, the second most of any centre behind Ngani Laumape, while his 22 clean breaks were the second most of any Australian based player (Koroibete - 23).

12

Ngani Laumape

Hurricanes

Laumape was Super Rugby's top try scorer (15) in 2017, while he beat the joint-third most defenders and made the fourth most clean breaks. He was the top ranking centre in both those categories too, as well as the top centre for carries and metres gained.

11

James Lowe

Chiefs

Only Laumape and Vince Aso scored more tries than Lowe (11), who made 40 clean breaks this season, five more than the next best player. His tally of 1355 metres was the third best in Super Rugby.

10

Beauden Barrett

Hurricanes

No player assisted as many tries as Beauden Barrett this season (13), who was the top ranking fly half for both carries (157) and metres gained (846).

9

Augustine Pulu

Blues

Pulu was one of the most consistent scrum halves in 2017, ranking in the top two for his position in tries, carries, metres, clean breaks, defenders beaten and turnovers won.

8

Amanaki Mafi

Rebels

The Rebels' number 8 made the most carries (196) and metres (990) of any forward in 2017, while he also made the second most offloads (24) and beat the third most defenders (35) of any forward.

7

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes

No forward made more clean breaks (19) or beat more defenders (50) than Ardie Savea this season, who was directly involved in 10 tries this season (6 tries, 4 assists).

6

Jaco Kriel

Lions

No forward was directly involved in more tries than the Lions flanker (12 - 8 tries, 4 assists). Kriel also beat 43 defenders, a tally only Ardie Savea could better out of this season's Super Rugby forwards.

5

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Stormers

No-one claimed more lineouts on their own team's throw than Pieter-Steph du Toit (61), whose seven lineout steals were bettered by just two players. He was effective in both attack and defence highlighted by the fact that he was one of just nine players to make 130+ carries, and 130+ tackles.

4

Guido Petti Pagadizaval

Jaguares

Just two locks beat more defenders than Guido Petti Pagadizaval (19), who conceded just six turnovers this season, the joint fewest of any lock to play 800+ minutes in Super Rugby.

3

Allan Alaalatoa

Brumbies

Allan Alaalatoa made the second most carries of any prop this season (87), just one behind Jacques van Rooyen, while his tally of 126 tackles were comfortably more than any other prop. He maintained a 93% tackle success rate in the process - the best of any prop to make 35+ tackles.

2

Malcolm Marx

Lions

Just four players overall scored more tries than Malcolm Marx who crossed the try line more often than any other forward (10). He also made the most metres and clean breaks of any front rower and made more successful lineout throws than anyone else, maintaining a 90% success rate in the process.

1

Jacques Van Rooyen

Lions

Jacques van Rooyen scored the joint most tries of any prop (3) while he also made the most carries (88) and joint most clean breaks (6) of any player in his position.

Opta Index: How does it work

The Opta Index allows genuine opportunities to compare and contrast both player and team strengths and weaknesses across Super Rugby, providing real insights pre-game as follows: 

After every match Opta completes a video analysis of every touch of the ball. Each action in the match is awarded a points value depending on the relative importance of the action. So for example, a try scores more points than a tackle, but a player loses points for a missed tackle.

The points are then weighted against the score at the time when the action took place (higher points if the score is closer), the time in the match (higher points at the start of the match) and the position on the pitch where it took place (higher points for actions closer to the goal line).

The player is then given a score for the match by adding up all his actions while he was on the field. The total match score is then weighted to take account of the strength of the opposition so that performances across many matches can be judged fairly.