What’s In A Game? Scotland v Australia 2022

Across the Autumn Nations Series, On Top Of The Moon will be analysing games to try and put some numbers on exactly what it is that we’re watching in Test rugby. How much time is the ball in play? And where do the minutes and seconds go when the ball is dead?

Here is the analysis of game time, based on the match clock, for the dark blues’ opening game this Autumn, against Australia.

Open play x 49

Game time
32m 37s

Average duration

% of game time

Length of time of open play:

  • 1s to 21s – 14 times
  • 21s to 40s – 19 times
  • 41s to 60s – 6 times
  • 1m to 2m – 8 times
  • longer than 2m – twice

The longest passage of open play was 3m 10s between the 71st and 74th minutes of the game. It started from the kick-off following Bernard Foley’s final penalty and took in 19 passes, 15 rucks and 6 changes of possession (handling error, ruck turnover and 4 kicks) before it was ended by an Australian knock-on.

Penalties (excluding goal kicks) x 23

Game time
13m 29s

Average duration

% of game time

There was also a tapped free kick which was taken immediately, bringing the ball into play after a scrum offence.

Only a single one of the penalties was tapped, with the remaining 22 all kicked successfully to touch for a lineout. Note that Hunter Paisami’s penalty for talking back to the referee is not included in the averages above as it took place with play already stopped for another Australian penalty.

Goal kicks x 8

Game time
12m 17s

Average duration

% of game time

The laws of the game require that conversions are taken within 90s from the time the try was awarded. The 3 conversions in this game took 104s (missed by Blair Kinghorn), 83s (made by Kinghorn) and 86s (made by Bernard Foley).

The laws state that a penalty goal must be taken within 60 seconds from the time the team indicated their intention to kick. The simplified laws have removed the sentence that stated “The intention to kick is signalled by the arrival of the kicking tee or sand, or when the player makes a mark on the ground.”

Therefore although the average time elapsed for the 5 kicks at goal was 92s from the point the penalty was awarded none of them was timed out by the officials who would have been taking the 60s limit from the point the tee arrived.

Lineouts x 30

Game time
11m 54s

Average duration

% of game time

There was also one quick lineout where the ball was immediately brought back into play.

Just 8 of the game’s lineouts originated from open play with the remaining 22 arising as a result of penalties kicked to touch.

This game was above Scotland’s average of 26 lineouts per game in the Townsend era, although still some way short of the 36 such setpieces that occurred in the game against Italy in Singapore in 2017.

Restarts x 10

Game time
5m 49s

Average duration

% of game time

There were 6 kick-offs following scores, 3 goalline dropouts and one 22 dropout. The kick-offs averaged 32s. The dropouts averaged 39s.

The commentary team mentioned the slow pace of the Scottish side when restarting after Australia’s try and with a man in the sin bin. This kick-off took 40s which is 9s longer than the average for the other restarts of this type.

Scrums x 5

Game time
4m 46s

Average duration

% of game time

This was an unusual game, featuring the fewest scrums of any Scotland fixture during the Townsend era – the average number of scrums per match during this period is 12.

Mr Pearce was also very keen to keep the game moving, making quick decisions and only resetting a scrum on one occasion. 3 scrums ended in penalties (2 for Scotland and 1 for Australia) and 1 with a free-kick (for Australia). The only completed scrum came immediately before the ball was dropped by Australia for Blair Kinghorn to hack through and score his try.

Clock stopped

The match clock was also stopped on 10 occasions (once in the first half and nine times in the second) for a total of 9m 19s:

  • 5m 16s – TMO
  • 1m 29s – injury / water breaks
  • 2m 9s – replacements
  • 25s – talking to team captain

Therefore the actual time that passed from the opening whistle to half-time and from kick-off in the second half to full-time was 90m 11s of which the ball was in play for 32m 37s or 36%.

One comment

  1. Very interesting and insightful breakdown of the game, thanks Kevin.

    The time allocated to kicking a goal should be reduced. The referee should be informed by an official when the time has elapsed. The referee would then blow his/her whistle and the opportunity to take the kick would be forfeited. The routine some kickers go through beggars belief.

    It is just a palaver like golfers have before they finally make a stroke, in particular when putting. The rule should be one practice swing only. Cameron Smith showed, when winning the Open this year, that even one wasn’t necessary!

    Liked by 1 person

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