The Sunwolves, now into their third Super Rugby campaign, have gone back to basics in 2018 in a bid to improve on forgettable seasons in 2016 and 2017. The Japanese side have two games under their belt against Australian opposition and will now travel to face the Sharks in their first away game of the season, but already they have shown marked improvement on the performances they had to offer last year.
They might’ve earned just one bonus point from their two games thus far, but the Sunwolves have been defensively strong, both in relation to their previous form and the current efforts of other teams this season.
The Sunwolves boast an impressive tackles success rate of 90% this season, averaging 137 completed tackles per game from their two fixtures thus far. Their success rate is three percentage points greater than that of any other team, with the next best on the ladder being last year’s runners up the Lions.
The Japanese squad have finished each of their two games this season with a tackle success rate of the same figure (90%), a feat they had not managed to match even once in their 30 games prior.
New recruit Pieter Labuschagne has been at the forefront of the Sunwolves’ bolstered defence, making 37 tackles and missing just one in his opening two games for the club.
Indeed, only Nizaam Carr (who has played one more game than Labuschagne) has made more tackles than the Sunwolves flanker thus far in Super Rugby 2018.
Ed Quirk is the next best ranked Sunwolves player on that list, coming in as the seventh busiest tackler of the season to date. Like Labushagne above him, Quirk has missed just one tackle for the campaign so far and boasts an impressive tackle success rate of 97%.