“There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Bullshit – that line came from a politician for whom facts could be inconvenient. Whilst the rugby public are just beginning to recognise how individual statistics can drive team success in this post-Moneyball era, they generally cherry-pick numbers to back up a previously-held position. [Aside: go see Andy McGeady if you think statistics are irrelevances of interest to out-of-touch boffins only.]
However, team statistics are harder to argue with – they tell the story about a teams success at a higher level. In the Joe Schmidt era, Leinster’s success was frankly incredible, and probably impossible to match. When you look at the raw numbers generated by the Milky Bar Kid and his goys, its kind of staggering. Here are a few choice gems from the Joe Schmidt era at Leinster:
0: Heineken Cup games lost to teams who aren’t Clermont Auvergne
2: teams who beat Leinster more than twice in Joe Schmidt’s reign, Clermont (3) and Ospreys (5)
4: both the number of trophies won in three years, and the number of games under Schmidt it took for George Hook to claim he had “lost the dressing room” – this was on September 24th, 2010
6: finals reached in three seasons
59: Net winning margin in HEC knockout games not involving Cardiff, average of 11.8 ppg
85.4%: success rate in Heineken Cup. 24 matches played: 20 won, 1 draw, 3 lost
90: Net winning margin in 6 HEC knockout matches (all won), average of 15 ppg
240: Number of starts made for Ireland by Leinster players during Schmidt’s reign, 48.5% of all starts (Mun 145 Uls 100 Conn 7 Other 3)
Leinster have had a remarkably successful three seasons under Schmidt and have done so playing skillful and intelligent rugger – they have parked themselves at the top table of European rugby, and only Clermont Auvergne and Toulon have come close to their level in this time. Now Schmidty moves on to Ireland, and Matt O’Connor comes from Leicester to take the Impossible Job – if Schmidt’s methods transfer to Carton House, expect the kind of success (and attacking play) that we all think we have the players for.
Samoa, Oz and BNZ is a tough series to start, and the
baying paying public will expect two wins. Its been a while since we have achieved our goal in a series (RWC11 pool stages probably), and the sky-high expectations Schmidty has created for himself mean he will probably want three. This ride could be fun, you know.
Postscript: the original plan was for Les Kiss to take the tour to the USA and Canada, but it appears Schmidty will be elbowing the inventor of the choke tackle aside after Houston and taking charge himself. Hands on.