By The Numbers: The Stats behind the 2010s rugby decade

Remember when we were still wondering if New Zealand would ever win another World Cup, Japan were regarded as the global tournament's punchbags, Martin Johnson was in charge of England and Warren Gatland had yet to be head coach for a Lions tour ?

That was back in 2010, at the beginning of -- on most people's reckoning -- a decade which ends next week. Yes, we know that some will argue that it does not happen for another year, but those dates when the third digit ticks over always feel much more natural points of reference.

So here are the 2010s, By The Number....

0

Tries were scored in 99 appearances by All Black prop Owen Franks, whose teammates more than made up for him in the matter.

Points were scored by Bolivia in its only test match, against Paraguay in Asuncion in September 2019. Paraguay scored 109.

Test series were lost by the British and Irish Lions, the first decade of which was true since the 1890s (unless you count the 1940s, when they did not play).

2

Red cards were issued to three players, all from the Americas. The USA's John Quill picked his up in 20 matches, Brazil's Chabal Paulo in 37. But neither received a yellow, making Argentina's Tomas Lavanini hard to beat as disciplinary villain of the decade for his two reds and five yellows in 56 appearances.

Irish wins over New Zealand, compared to none in the 105 years up to 2010.

3

Drop goals were landed by Theuns Kotze of Namibia in the space of four minutes in their 2011 World Cup match against Fiji, an extraordinary barrage out of keeping not only with a decade when the drop was decidedly out of fashion, but Kotze's own record of five drops in 40 matches. One other player, Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez, landed three in a match, spaced across the 16th, 29th and 45th minutes in the 30-19 defeat of France in Buenos Aires in Tucuman in 2016

4

Wins out of four across the decade by Gibraltar, including two defeats of Finland.

5

Welsh wins over South Africa compared to one in the 104 years to 2010, but would undoubtedly all have been swapped in an instant for victory in the one that mattered most, the World Cup semifinal in 2019.

6

Tries were the most scored in a match by one player, a record shared by Yoshikazu Fujita for Japan against United Arab Emirates and Facundo Barrea for Argentina against Brazil, in the space of less than a fortnight in 2012. Fujita was making his debut, Barrea playing his 2nd test.

8

Yellow cards were issued to back-rowers Michael Hooper of Australia and Viktor Kolelishvili of Georgia, Kolelishvili achieving his sin-binnings in 49 matches to the Wallaby skipper's 99 and getting a red into the bargain.

11

Tries were scored by All Black Beauden Barrett against Australia, a fixture which tends to dominate head to head categories because it is played so much more often than any other . Barrett's mark is also the all-time record for any player against another nation, breaking the previous record set by his compatriots Richie McCaw and Ma'a Nonu, also against Australia.

12

Tests, all defeats, was the doleful record of Samoan centre Kieron Fonotia, the most by any of the 961 players whose international experience across the decade was only of losses. They included 13 Koreans surnamed Kim, who went a combined 0-29.

13

Drop goals by Dan Parks for Scotland were the most by any player across the decade, further evidence of the technique's decline as he played his last test in 2012. Argentina's Sanchez was next up with 12 -- neither matching Jonny Wilkinson's single-year tally for England in 2003.

17

Straight wins between 2013 and 2015 gave All Black Charles Piutau the longest immaculate test career of the decade, ahead of teammate Tony Boric and Ireland's Dan Leavy, each capped 11 times.

Straight defeats were by contrast the woeful record as captain of Canada of well-liked Osprey Tyler Ardron.

Years and 302 days was the age of Rezi Jintchvelashvili when he was capped at centre for Georgia against a South African President's XV in Tbilisi made him the youngest international player of the decade, overtaking Spanish lock Alejandro Jesus Blanco Frade, 17 years and 339 days when he played against Zimbabwe in 2012. Neither has really fulfilled early promise - Jintchvelahsvili has won only 8 caps, while Blanco Frade won 10 caps by the age of 19 and a half, but none since.

19

Defeats were inflicted on Australian scrum-half Will Genia by New Zealand, although he did at least get 3 wins, making his overall experience broadly more pleasurable than that of Argentinian hooker Agustin Creevy against the All Blacks, 15 straight losses, Gethin Jenkins' 0-10 record against Australia or Leonardo Ghiraldini's 10 straight losses to Wales.

27

Yellow cards were issued to Ireland, making them the best-disciplined of the Tier One nations, followed by the French, who against stereotype received only 31. Worst of the Established Ten were Australia, with 60, but their total was exceeded by Russia (78), Georgia (76) and Uruguay (75).

30

Matches were played between Australia and New Zealand. Keiron Read played in the lot, making it wholly unsurprising that his 23 victories in the fixture were the most by any player against another opponent, closely followed by Sam Whitelock (29 matches, 22 wins).

37

Points by Japan's 2015 World Cup legend Ayumu Goromaru against Sri Lanka in Nagoya in 2014 were the most by a player in a single match. Goromaru was also second on the list with 36 against the Phillipines a year earlier and scored 30 or more on four occasions. The tier one list was topped by Felipe Contepomi with 31 points for Argentina against France in Buenos Aires in 2010.

46

Tries made All Black Julian Savea the top scorer of the 2010s followed by Wales and Lions' George North (41) and All Black Ben Smith (39). Barrett's 36 were the most by anyone not playing in the back three, with Read's 26 the best by a forward, although there's a serious honourable mention for Germany's Jacobus Otto who has crossed 25 times in 29 back-row appearances since 2015. A measure of France's worst decade since the 1920s was that their leader, Wesley Fofana, ranked 65th overall with 15 tries.

Years and 60 days was Brett Bowie's age when he made his single appearance at prop for the United Arab Emirates in Dubai in 2013. There was clearly something about Japan's trips to the Middle East since Bowie overtook Mark Gathercole, who was 43 years and 213 days when he propped for the Arabian Gulf against them in 2010.

60

Wins meant that Richie McCaw was not really challenged as the most successful captain of the decade, in spite of retiring in 2015. Read was second with 47, Mihai Macovei of Romania third with 35.

Defeats meant perhaps the most predictable outcome in all of these findings, which is that Italy's indomitable Sergio Parisse gave more losing press conferences than anyone else, almost matching the combined total of the next two, Creevy with 36 losses as captain and Sam Warburton with 26 for Wales and the Lions.

61

Appearances from the bench made Ireland's Sean Cronin, who must hope that Rory Best's retirement presages a different role, the most-used replacement followed by Australia's James Slipper (51).

66

Defeats for the indefatigable Ghiraldini meant that Parisse was spared at least one losing record, the overall total, with Creevy next on 58 followed by the Russian duo of Vasily Artemyev and Victor Gresev, 48 apiece.

85

Defeats completes a cheerless trio of losing records for Italy, this one for most inflicted on a team followed by Argentina (75) and Russia (61). New Zealand finished 71st in this category, tied with Costa Rica and Estonia on 13 defeats.

88.72

Per cent was New Zealand's success rate across the decade. Second among nations playing at least 10 matches was Qatar (85.71) followed by Mali (78.57) with England (69.58) next among the established nations.

94.11

Per cent success made Wayne Crockett the most successful of the 12 All Blacks who sustained averages of 90 per cent or more across more than 50 caps, his uncanny early capacity for missing their rare bad days combined with a name suggesting he had stepped straight out of a TV western making him one of this column's favourites, even though his career had a slightly anticlimactic, percentage-reducing end against the 2017 British and Irish Lions. In a category dominated by the All Blacks, Englishmen George Ford (76.15 per cent) and Jamie Joseph (75.53) stood out by maintaining high success rates in careers of more than 50 caps.

101

Winning appearances made Whitelock the only player to pass three figures for victories, followed by a clutch of All Black team-mates. England's Dan Cole (68) and Ben Youngs (66) top the non-kiwis, with Romania's Florin Vlaicu (62) leading Tier Two. Whitelock's 117 appearances, 97 as a starter, made him the most capped player of the decade followed by Read (111), Sekape Kepu (107) and Alun-Wyn Jones, whose 105 appearances were the most by a European and took him into the 2020s poised to overtake McCaw's all-time mark and become the first player to win 150 caps.

116

Wins by, guess who, New Zealand were way ahead of anybody else in the 2010s, England a long way distant in second place with 82.

134-0

Means that while the 2010s were hardly memorable for Mauritius rugby, with only 6 wins in 22 matches one of those victories, over Swaziland in Gabarone in June 2014, was the highest by anyone during the decade.

139

Matches made Australia the busiest team of the 2010s, followed by New Zealand (134) and Wales (129).

159

Points by All Black Daniel Carter were the most against any single opponent, Australia, followed by four other players - Owen Farrell (156), Barrett (144), Leigh Halfpenny (139) and Morne Steyn (134), all also against the Wallabies. Sanchez's 126 for the Pumas against the All Blacks were the most against any team other than Australia, while Vlaicu led the Tier Two records with 112 points against Spain and Halfpenny the Six Nations with 109 against Scotland.

160

Conversions by Goromaru makes this a rare try-scoring-related category not led by an All Black, followed by Barrett on 149, Farrell on 143 and Vlaicu on 139.

187

Successful shots made Farrell the decade's top potter of penalties, just edging out Halfpenny (182). Wales topped the team category with 351, ahead of England (325) and South Africa (305).

391

Points mean that Greig Laidlaw retires with one of the most conclusive victories in any category, that of highest-scoring captain, well ahead of Farrell (231), Contepomi (172) and Macovei (85) whose 17 tries were the most by any captain.

615

Tries by...... guess who..... made them easily the highest try-scorers of the decade, although their average of 4.58 per match was topped by Japan's mean of just over five, with 537 tries in 107 matches.

906

Points made Farrell, who did not start until 2012, the top scorer of the decade, ahead of a clutch who scored more than 700 - Vlaicu (789), Jonny Sexton (765), Sanchez (748), Halfpenny (739) and Laidlaw (714) - and Goromaru (687) whose average of 14.83 points from each of his 47 matches was higher than anyone ahead of him, and Carter (604 in 46 matches).

3381

Points conceded by Italy were by far the most by any nation during the decade, although Germany's concession of 2337 in 72 matches had a higher average than Italy's mean of a touch over 30.

4797

Points. It would be tough, and probably take some contrivance, to end this column with a record set by anyone other than New Zealand, although here again Japan (4007) scored more points per game. Whether the improving Japanese can get closer in the 2020s may depend on a balance between a strengthening fixture list (likely to reduce the average) and the growing gap (likely to increase it) with historic rivals like Korea.