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Try Tracker identifies back line battle

14 March 2013

  • The IBM TryTracker includes the "Keys to the Game" which predicts three crucial areas of performance
  • Battle of the back line being highlighted as key area

England’s win over Italy showed that even when the team are not able to convert all their chances in attack, they can still rely on their solid defence. When Stuart Lancaster’s men travel to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday though for their Grand Slam showdown against Wales, they will know that defence is not going to be enough. According to the IBM Try Tracker Keys to the Game, England’s best chance of securing their first slam since 2003 is by playing running rugby and unleashing the back line.

TryTracker crunches masses of historic and current rugby data to identify three ‘Keys to the Game’ for each team. These are three crucial areas of performance specific to each team and if a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory.

England keys

  • Attempt more than 9 offloads
  • More than 52% of carries from backs
  • Achieve a tackle success rate greater than 91%

England were indecisive in their finishing against the Azzurri, squandering try-scoring opportunities and falling back on the boot of Toby Flood to grab the win. The team did manipulate the Italian defence, creating space out wide, but against Wales they will need to finish every opportunity they get. Keeping the ball with the forwards will not be the key against the Welsh either, with TryTracker predicting that if the backs make 52% of the carries they stand a better chance of victory. Players like Manu Tuilagi will be utilised to crash over the gain line, but supporting runners will also be as important with a target of 9 offloads.


  • Win more than 86% of set pieces
  • Make more than 6.2 metres per carry in the backs
  • Force more than 15 turnovers

A major battleground will be in the backs on Saturday with TryTracker giving Wales a target of 6.2 metres per carry. However, it will be up to the forwards to provide the back line with possession, and the set piece is where that platform will be set. If the Welsh win more than 86% of set pieces, they will supply their backs with the ball they need to do the damage. A target of 15 turnovers means that the back row of Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric will be busy taking on England at the breakdown.