SANZAR and Game Manager Lyndon Bray are happy to report that the opening round of 2012 Super Rugby action showed a compliance to the ‘Big 5’ Priorities, and while there appeared to be adjustment on the part of some franchises, there was obvious application to ensuring that the Super Rugby’s benchmarks were followed.

Once again, the Big 5 Priorities are:

Tackle: aim - 70% ball available within 3 seconds
Scrum: aim - 70% of scrums completed on the first hit
Ball in Play: aim - 35-40 minutes per game
Offside at Ruck: aim - less than 5 per game
Turnovers at Tackle: aim - 90% accuracy by player & referee

Bray said that one of the two changes to the priorities – in improving the completion of scrums – was impressive throughout week one, with a massive jump in first hit success based on overall statistics from the 2011 Super Rugby season.

“Importantly in round one, scrum completion rates across the 7 games lifted to 58%, it was 45% average last year,” Bray said.

“In the case of the Bulls v Sharks, and Chiefs v Highlanders matches, their scrum completion rates were above 70%!”

The second change to the priorities for 2012, enforcing the offside line at the ruck, was excellent.

Often the one thing that detriments play is the creeping of the tight defence around the fringes of the ruck, and more determined policing of this area will eventually allow for more fluent play when combined with the existing policies.

“Offside at ruck was on average only 4 missed per game, so with our aim for less than 5, that was a good effort,” Bray said.

The SANZAR Game Manager also hailed the speed of the ball exiting the ruck, almost keeping in line with the aims set prior to the 2012 Super Rugby season.

“3 Second Ball was 68%, a good average across the competition,” Bray said.

While some may have lamented increased penalties in some matches, SANZAR accepted that some teams and players would take time to adjust – but the simple reality is that franchises prepared to attack would not be pinged as much as defensive outfits that could at times adopt negative tactics.

“The penalty break down saw the defensive team penalised twice more than the attacking team,” Bray said.

“This is the sort of balance in the game the coaches would want and we expect.”

“All in all, a very positive start to 2012.”