The recent break for the English Premiership has given us a chance to reflect on what we have seen so far, and to pick out six players who have stood out for different reasons. In this data analysis, we will focus on key statistics for each of those players, highlighting why they have been integral to their team’s tactics this season.
CLUB: Exeter Chiefs
When it comes to in-form forwards in the Premiership, Exeter’s Will Witty is surely top of the list. He is particularly adept when teams are building phases in the middle of the field, having made 60 carries and gained an average of 4.38 metres with each one, as well as two clean breaks to date. Therefore, he knows where the gaps are in opposing defences. When the Chiefs are defending, he has made 44 tackles and only missed nine, giving him a tackle success rate of 83%, and this shows how he is a reliable player to have on the pitch when opponents are running into his team’s line as well.
South African utility back Tyrone Green was signed by Harlequins in 2020, but had to wait until the match at Newcastle Falcons in March 2021 to really introduce himself to their fans. Since then, he has become Quins’ first choice at full-back, making an average of 10.16 metres with each carry, which demonstrates how he likes to run with the ball instead of simply kicking it. In fact, he has made the most metres of anyone this season (864), as well as making four clean breaks and beating the most defenders (35). In defence, he is not the best full-back in the division, with a tackle success rate of just 56%, but there is no doubting that he is a solid player who has stood out so far, hence his inclusion in this analysis.
CLUB: Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers’ sudden revival this season has surprised many people, given the steady improvements they had been making up to this campaign, and their defensive play has been especially impressive. George Ford has a creative role in the middle for the Tigers, and they always play better when he is on the field because of his vision around the pitch. His 84% tackle success rate highlights how he is just as important when the team are defending too, and his 36 tackles have helped them to end opposing attacks with more success than last season. Therefore, whilst the East Midlands side’s success can be attributed to many players in the team, Ford is the one who controls the play and who has been winning a lot of plaudits so far.
CLUB: London Irish
The position of hooker has become critical in modern rugby, as they are the central player at lineouts, they are essential in holding scrums together, and they generally take control of the ball in rolling mauls. This has led to Argentina international Agustin Creevy currently sitting as the third-highest try scorer in the Premiership so far, with five to his name (one behind the league’s other in-form hooker, Leicester’s Nic Dolly). At set-pieces, he has also been vitally important for London Irish, having won 67 so far (the fourth-most in the league), so he has been a dependable player for Irish in those situations too.
CLUB: Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle Falcons have been another surprise team this season, having won four of their first seven league games. One player who has really stood out for them is winger Adam Radwan, who has been a threat every time he gets the ball. He has only scored two tries so far in the current campaign, but has made four clean breaks and beaten 17 defenders, so opponents find it difficult to stop him when he gets on the front foot. His form last season led to him receiving a call-up to the England squad for the recent Autumn internationals, where he played a key role in taking Tonga apart in their opening game, scoring the first try of the match, so there is no doubting that both Newcastle and England pose a permanent threat when he is on the field.
CLUB: Sale Sharks
What we are currently witnessing in the Premiership is the incoming of the next generation. The likes of Leicester full-back Freddie Steward and Bath fly-half Orlando Bailey have been putting on some outstanding performances this season, but Sale Sharks scrum-half Raffi Quirke is arguably the most exciting young talent in English rugby at the present time. He has a good rugby brain, seeing spaces and making breaks through opposing lines, and his 27 carries, with an average of 8.44 metres gained for each one, shows how he has been difficult for opposing teams to defend against. He is another who recently earned a call-up to Eddie Jones’ England squad for the Autumn internationals, and Sale have not missed the quality of injured South Africa star Faf de Klerk at the start of this season because of his high performance level. There is no doubt that he will be a future star of English rugby.