On Top Of The Moon has already taken a look at key stats for defence, work rate and attack so now it’s time for attention to turn to the issue of discipline in the PRO14. Last season saw 555 players concede 2,772 penalties – with 138 men keeping their noses clean and not committing any offences (well at least none that the referees spotted!)
Read on to find out the top 10 most likely to concede penalties in each position group and the overall bad boys’ and good guys’ XVs from 2017/18.
The nature of the scrum meant the big men in the front row were always likely to be the naughtiest of the naughty. They conceded over 1,000 penalties – more than 37% of the total offences – and it was the men from Zebre and Benetton that lead the way. Having given them their props (sorry…) for their skills in attack it’s only fair to draw attention to the fact that the old cliche about powerful Italian scrummaging is a little out of date these days.
More trouble in the tight 5 for Zebre (Valerio Bernabo was also only 2 places off this list). George Biagi’s 21 penalties and 2 yellow cards certainly meant he was right in the thick of things – but not necessarily in an entirely positive way! Fortunately for the stripy (now multi-coloured) Italians, as we’ll see below, their back rowers helped to balance things out a bit by being a lot more efficient at avoiding the referee’s wrath…
The fantastically named Tienie Burger put in an incredible effort throughout the season. Even without being at risk of offending in the scrum like his front row colleagues he managed to concede 22 penalties all on his own during 13 appearances in the league. That’s some serious dedication to getting on the wrong side of the refs. (The very top of the tree for total penalties conceded was of course a prop – Burger’s teammate at the Kings, Schalk Ferreira.)
Moaning; griping; wailing; whining; grousing; grumbling; carping; lamenting. Just generally complaining about everything in fact. It’s a wonder the scrum halves’ strong showing on this list isn’t even stronger. The refs would probably need to catch them doing something more than low-level petty whinging though. There are also some pretty grumpy stand offs among these names who could give the 9s a run for their money.
There’s a trend for the more physical centres to play almost as auxiliary back rows, taking primary responsibility for attacking the breakdown and jackalling once the play gets stretched a little wider. With that being the case seeing names like Marshall, Robb and Dunbar on this list is hardly surprising. 85kg Tomasso Iannone is a bit of an anomaly though. His defensive efforts belie his (relatively) slight stature and he’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in.
It takes a special kind of attitude / hot-headedness / losing of the plot (take your pick) for a player who spends most of the game in a position that’s peripheral to the real action to get their minutes per penalty into double digits. Hanno Dirksen is that man though. Clearly a frustrated flanker, the South African winger had nearly as many penalties as clean breaks – and the same number of yellow cards (and suspensions) as he did tries…
This is what a bad boys XV would look like. These lads would never be far from the heart of the action (unless they were taking an unscheduled sit down for 10 minutes of course):
Of course not everyone
gets caught transgresses the laws all the time. The very best behaved players in the PRO14 only conceded 6 penalties in a combined 8,264 minutes of game time. As a XV they would average less than 1 penalty per match.
Minimum qualification – 240 minutes played
Stats source – http://espn.co.uk match reports