PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Aviva Premiership heads into a month-long break for European action, so now is a good time to look at the data gathered so far for Aviva Premiership kickers in the competition. Here is a table of all kickers with at least ten attempts.
A few things stand out about this table. The first, for me, is the kickers on the bottom. They are, not coincidentally, from the teams at the bottom of the table. No matter how the kickers are evaluated, things look bad for Olly Barkley and Juan Socino… Rory Clegg took over the kicking duties during the Newcastle Falcons’ win over London Welsh, and that might have to be a permanent switch… Piri Weepu has been a goal kicker in his career. He can’t be worse than Barkley. Barkley and Socino each cost their sides 10 points when compared to how the average professional goal kicker would have performed. Gareth Steenson, meanwhile, has added 10 points to the Chiefs.
Then, the Harlequins’ kickers. Looking back at most preseason prediction, Quins are underperforming. Some of the fault lies with decision-making, but some of those decisions may very well have been influenced by the justified lack of confidence in Nick Evans and Ben Botica.
The more interesting and complicated aspect is who is at the top. By the old, most commonly used measurement, straight percentage, Charlie Hodgson would be the best. He is making 88.5% of his kicks. However, he is taking easy kicks. He is fifteenth on this list of 16 kickers in terms of difficulty of kicks. The only kicker with at least 10 attempts for the season with easier kicks is Ben Botica.
Is Hodgson currently the best goal kicker in the competition? No.
The Aviva Premiership site lists George Ford as the top kicker because he has made the most kicks. Ford has played every game for a side that is playing well and scoring a lot of tries. Is he the top goal kicker in the competition? No.
Farrell is tops for now, though he may fall once he actually starts playing again. If one is pressed to place an asterisk next to Farrell’s top spot because of his injury, then Steenson is the guy.
Another thing that stands out is where Shane Geraghty falls. In a straight percentage accounting, he is eighth. On this table, he is third. With the difficulty of kicks that he is taking, he is performing better than Hodgson.
Take a look at the visual representation of the kicks taken by each player.
The graphic makes it pretty clear that not only has Geraghty taken more kicks overall, but also more of his kicks have been from difficult spots. This helps to show how he can be ranked ahead of Hodgson.
Because he has only taken 7 attempts, Henry Slade from Exeter is not ranked, but he has made 6 of those 7 and gained 7 points. That’s impressive.
All of this data is up at Goalkickers, along with more explanation about the ranking system.
It would be wonderful to have all of the data for the European rugby happening this year. However, it isn’t clear that all of those games are going to be officially available. And it isn’t clear that time would allow this fan to track all of those kicks.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@:RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Jaime Loyd, DJ Eberle, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.