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IBM TryTracker highlights pivotal Pumas set-piece

07 November 2013

  • IBM TryTracker predicts 'Keys to the Game' ahead of England's clash with Argentina
  • Rock-solid set-piece needed for Pumas to cause an upset 


Last week IBM TryTracker suggested England’s set-piece would be vital, setting a target for the hosts of forcing a penalty on 16% of their own scrums. As the rain came down just before kick-off, it seemed an arm-wrestle might be in store, and so it proved with neither backline really managing to stamp their authority on a disjointed Test match.

However, Dan Cole and Mako Vunipola caused havoc, compelling referee George Clancy to blow up five times from seven England put-ins. Now Argentina visit Twickenham with one of the most revered packs in international rugby. More of the same is needed by Stuart Lancaster's side.

IBM’s Predictive Analytics software analyses historic and current rugby data provided by Opta, the world’s leading sports data provider, to provide valuable in-game stats. It gives viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game and explains what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of a team win against specific opponents.

The IBM TryTracker includes the ‘Keys to the Game’, which predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. If a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory. The data collected and provided by Opta for all England internationals is analysed by IBM, before being hosted on

England keys

  • Attempt at least 9 offloads
  • Average 5.5m per carry
  • Force more than 15 turnovers

It may only be his second Test, but outside centre Joel Tomkins already has a point to prove. Unable to impose himself against the Wallabies on debut, the Saracen will be hoping to get his significant frame and sleight of hand into the game early this time round. As he has consistently shown in the Aviva Premiership, one skill that sets the league convert apart is his off-loading. With a target of nine during the 80 minutes, it would help England's cause immeasurably if Tomkins' burgeoning midfield partnership with Billy Twelvetrees started to fire.

Mike Brown's man-of-the-match display from full back on Saturday was full of purposeful, powerful running.  Racking up 125 metres from 17 carries, the in-form Harlequin inspired HQ. A repeat showing – with added impetus from the likes of Billy Vunipola and co. – would aid England on the way to TryTracker's goal of 5.5 metres per carry.

The final key puts the spotlight on the breakdown, where England excelled in the early stages last weekend. An aim of 15 turnovers has been set by TryTracker, meaning Graham Rowntree must compel the same ruck-speed and intensity from his pack. Chris Robshaw, buoyed a maiden Test try, has a crucial role to play from openside.

Argentina keys

  • Win at least 88% of set-pieces on own ball
  • Take ball into contact at least once per minute
  • Backs to carry ball in hand at least 38 times

Though their Rugby Championship campaign ended with a humbling 54-17 defeat to the Wallabies in Rosario, the Pumas could still boast a sturdy scrum effort – an indellible hallmark of Argentinean rugby down the years. Leicester Tiger Marcos Ayerza is back to add his considerable weight and international experience there, too. Even without excellent talisman Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, a return of 88 per cent of set-piece possession should be well within their capabilities.

Juan Imhoff and Marcelo Bosch are also notable names in a much-changed outfit from the one that was handed a 2-0 whitewash by Lancaster's men this June. Both are talented runners, so while the typically punchy Argentinean play around the fringes will help them towards a TryTracker target of 80 carries in the match, halfbacks Tomas Cubelli and Nicolás Sanchez will not be afraid of spreading it wide either.