Taking the Initiative

12 Aug 2020
Taking the Initiative

No team in the New Zealand competition has lost more than one game in Super Rugby Aotearoa after having scored the opening try of the game on the day...

There’s not always a lot between teams as they take on their national rivals in the Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU, but striking first and striking early can often be enough to give you the edge in picking up maximum points on the day.

Super Rugby Aotearoa is set to enter its final round this weekend, and it has been an overwhelming trend that the first team to cross for a try on the day has gone on to win.

No team in the New Zealand competition has lost more than one game in Super Rugby Aotearoa after having scored the opening try of the game on the day. The Blues (six times) have scored the opening try of the game on more occasions than any other team, while the Hurricanes (four times) are the only team to maintain a 100% winning record when striking first in the competition.

The Chiefs have struggled in the early exchanges, finding the opening try of the game on just one occasion – a game they would eventually go on to lose.

The Brumbies have dominated Super Rugby AU straight off the bat, having scored the opening try of the game in four of their five games so far this season.

The first strike has not been as reliable an indicator of success in the Australian competition as it has been in the New Zealand competition outside of the Brumbies successes, though.

In fact, no other team has won more than one game in Super Rugby AU when they have scored the opening try of the game. The returned Force have picked up their form quickly on their quick return to Super Rugby, scoring the opening try of the game on three occasions – the second-most of any team. However, they have gone on to lose every one of those three games when they’ve struck first on the day.

The Blues’ Caleb Clarke and Crusaders’ Will Jordan have each struck the opening try of the game on two occasions thus far in Super Rugby Aotearoa, while no other player has managed to do so more than a single time. The pair are set to go head-to-head in the final round of the competition this weekend, giving either one of them the opportunity to sit atop this category outright come season’s end. No player has scored the opening try of the game more than once after the opening six rounds of Super Rugby AU.

Two tries have been scored within the first minute of a game across the Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU competitions, both occurring in the New Zealand edition. Sevu Reece (Crusaders) and Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) have both touched down exactly 58 seconds after kick off this season, faster than any other players.

The fastest try scored in Super Rugby AU thus far came via the Brumbies’ Tom Wright, who dotted down at 1:20 against the Western Force in July.

In total, there have been just nine tries scored within the opening five minutes of games across both Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU in 2020, and with vital competition points on the line those teams that can strike early again will give themselves every chance of clinching a win.