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The countdown to the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship continues. In order to get a sense of what to look for from the USA Eagles in the ARC and beyond, here is a look at some specifics from 2016.
An earlier post looked at the performance of the USA Eagles from the kicking tee in 2016 and at restarts in November. This post looks at tries and penalties for the Eagles in 2016.
The Eagles try-scoring details are relatively typical, if looking at international rugby broadly. Looking at the match analysis documents that World Rugby produces, it is clear that most tries are scored from a good territorial position, the lineout is the single largest possession source that leads to tries, and most tries are scored within three phases.
The Eagles scored 77% of their tries within three phases, and 55% of tries from lineout possession.
Here are the totals for where the USA tries came from in 2016.
Here is a map of all of the 2016 tries.
The Eagles in 2016 won 114 penalties. They conceded 87. That ratio is good--winning 1.3 penalties for every penalty conceded. Of the 114 penalties they won, 63% (72) were in their attacking half.
46% (33) of those penalties won in the attacking half led to points, directly or indirectly.
Looking only at points scored directly—from the penalty goal attempt or from the possession resulting from the penalty—those 72 penalties were turned into 108 points. That means that the average value of a penalty in the attacking half for the Eagles in 2016 was 1.92 points.
At last year's ARC, considering the decisions and outcomes for all teams, the return on a penalty in the attacking half was two points. For further context, the average return for all teams at the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup was 1.98.
Here is a map of all of the 2016 penalties. The penalties can be sorted by opposition and decision made. Hover over the circles for more information. The "penalty" label indicates a penalty goal attempt.
Potential Signs of Progress to Look For
Apart from wins and losses, there are other things to look at to see if the Eagles are progressing. One indicator of progress is how many tries are scored from turnovers and returning kicks. If the Eagles can maintain the ability to score tries from lineouts while also scoring from more chaotic situations, then that indicates improvement in skill levels and decision making.
Another indicator is how much value they get from penalties won in the attacking half. If they can exceed the level of averaging two points per penalty won in the attacking half during the ARC, then that is another sign of improved skills and execution.