'Plenty to offer': Bulls star Smith leads the URC stats
STATS ATTACK: The United Rugby Championship team have taken look back over the last 12 months of URC and Pro14 to see which players have stood out using the URC StatMaster expected points (xp) metric.
According to the URC, the revolutionary new stat measures the impact each player has on his side’s chances of scoring by using “expected points added” (EPA) in the NFL and “expected goals” (xG) in football.
Using a collection of machine-learning algorithms, URC StatMaster has analysed the average effect each event on the field has on the scoreboard.
Here, is a look at the top 10 players ranked by their XP values per 80 minutes played over the past 12 months, with only those who have played more than 200 minutes during that time frame included.
1. Chris Smith (Bulls) – 4.56 xP
Smith was one of the Bulls’ star performers as they reached the Rainbow Cup final. He has had to make do with a place on the bench for all but one of his side’s five URC fixtures so far this season but a kicking value of +2.68 – the second highest in the competition – and a carrying figure of +1.06 – second-highest among flyhalves – suggest he has plenty to offer as a starting 10.
2. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys) – +3.95
Anscombe’s imperious kicking has steered him to the top end of the standings, representing a value of +3.53 – the best in the URC. He is the competition’s eighth-highest points scorer with 36.
3. Ben Vellacott (Edinburgh) – +3.31
The scrumhalf ranks third after a stellar start to the season and is in the top 10 when it comes to carrying, boasting a figure of +1.73. He is also second for kicking among scrum-halves (+1.11) and has crossed for four tries this season – two behind top scorer Mack Hansen of Connacht.
4. Dan Sheehan (Leinster) – +3.13
The only forward currently occupying a spot in the top 10, Sheehan has actually climbed to the top of the pile when it comes to carrying (+2.75), keeping the likes of Hansen and Darcy Graham off top spot.
5. Boeta Chamberlain (Sharks) – +3.07
Chamberlain served up one of the most memorable moments of the season so far when he hit a hat-trick of drop goals in a victory over the Ospreys in Round 3. He ranks fifth for kicking (+1.84) behind Anscombe, Smith, Morne Steyn and Joey Carbery.
6. Mack Hansen (Connacht) – +2.64
Hansen has arguably been the breakout star of the URC season so far and seems likely to feature on this list over the months to come. The wing’s carrying score of +2.36 takes much of the credit for his overall figure.
7. Jordan Hendrikse (Lions) – +2.58
Twenty-year-old flyhalf Hendrikse rose to prominence during the Rainbow Cup but has not featured since suffering a fractured right ankle in the Round 3 defeat to the Scarlets. Hendrikse’s catching value of +0.90 is in the top five for the competition.
8. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – +2.57
Graham is the URC’s fourth-best carrier (+2.23) and has racked up four tries so far this term as Edinburgh occupy second spot in the overall URC table.
=9. Adam Byrne (Leinster) – +2.52
Wing Byrne has been impressive since returning from a long lay-off for Leinster this season. He ranks fifth for carrying (+2.09) and has contributed three tries to the Dubliners’ URC cause.
=9. Dane Blacker (Scarlets) – +2.52
Blacker has Wales internationals Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy as competition for the Scarlets’ number nine jersey but earns a place on this list thanks to a carrying value per 80 minutes of +2.53 when he has played.