We Need To Talk About: Glasgow’s freak game against Leinster

42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. 43 is one better than that and also the answer to the question “how many tackles does it take to confirm that Jonny Gray isn’t really human?” Richie’s wee brother was at the very peak of his hard-grafting powers when Glasgow took on Leinster recently and his tackle tally was the highest ever recorded by OPTA in one of the world’s top leagues.

There was a lot going on stats-wise in the Warriors’ PRO14 Round 20 match. On Top Of The Moon is here to guide you through the numerical highlights.

8 players completed 20 or more tackles versus Leinster

From the start of the 2012/13 season until the Leinster game (201 fixtures) there had only been 22 previous occasions when Glasgow players had managed to complete 20 or more tackles in a match. 11 of those performances were (of course!) put in by Jonny Gray. The other players were:

  • Adam Ashe – Connacht (A) 2017/18
  • Brian Alainu’uese – Connacht (H) 2016/17
  • Callum Gibbins – Ospreys (H) 2017/18
  • Chris Fusaro – Connacht (A) 2013/14 and Saracens (A) 2018/19
  • Matt Smith – Connacht (H) 2016/17 and Edinburgh (A) 2017/18
  • Pat MacArthur – Cardiff Blues (H) 2012/13
  • Robert Harley – Connacht (H) 2016/17
  • Tim Swinson – Leinster (A) 2014/15
  • Tom Ryder – Edinburgh (A) 2013/14

On Saturday every member of the pack (if we take Adam Ashe as effectively starting having replaced Chris Fusaro after 2 minutes) made more than 20 tackles.

Record tackle stats across the board

Prior to the Leinster game the most tackles completed in a single match by a Glasgow player across the past 7 seasons was 26:

  • Jonny Gray – 26 completed and 0 missed away to Connacht in 2014/15
  • Matt Smith – 26 completed and 2 missed away to Edinburgh in 2017/18
  • Rob Harley – 26 completed and 3 missed at home to Connacht 2016/17

The game against Leinster now accounts for the top 5 most completed tackles by Glasgow players since ESPN started recording these stats for every game:

  1. Jonny Gray – 43 made / 0 missed
  2. Matt Fagerson – 33/3
  3. Fraser Brown – 28/0
  4. Robert Harley – 27/1
  5. Scott Cummings – 27/3

Zander Fagerson (26/2) and Adam Ashe (26/4) also tied the old record. Given Ashey was only on the pitch for 60 minutes what would his numbers have looked like if he had played out the final 18 minutes?

Even the backs were trying to get involved

No back has completed 20 tackles in a game between 2012 and 2019 but Peter Horne came incredibly close with 19 completed and 3 missed at the RDS. Again it’s worth bearing in mind that Pete didn’t play the full 80 minutes, having come on as a replacement with a quarter of the match already gone. His numbers (19/3) are the same that Adam Hastings managed in another equally bonkers game against Ospreys in 2017/18 (Adam played the full 80 in that fixture).

Jonny Gray continues to put up ridiculous stats

Jonny Gray has now played 5 times at the RDS in Dublin (4 starts; 1 sub appearance; 350 minutes). He has yet to miss a tackle, completing 116 out of 116 and he averages 26.5 tackles per 80 minutes in games away to Leinster.

Jonny’s overall career tackle count for Glasgow is 1,269 made and just 25 missed – a completion rate of 98.1%. Perfect condom use has a 98% ‘success’ rate. So the Warriors’ Jonny is empirically more effective than a rubber jonny…

There’s nothing to compare with the overall tackle numbers

Since 2012/13 there had only been one previous occasion when Glasgow had made more than 200 tackles in a game. The home fixture against Connacht in 2016/17 saw the Warriors complete 256 tackles with the visitors proving particularly adept at holding onto possession. In Dublin, Glasgow had to combine for 331.

Across the same period the lowest ever tally of tackles made for the club was away to Benetton in 2015/16 where the entire team only had to complete 53 tackles during a 38 – 16 victory. That’s just 10 more than Jonny Gray managed on his own against Leinster…

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