Revolutionary data that shows Carter Gordon is having a better season than DMac, Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett


Flyhalf is the most important position in rugby, with no other position has as much impact on the outcome of a game.

They are generally the first receiver and the primary decision maker for their teams – it’s hard to be a champion team without a world-class No. 10.

Kick, pass, run – it is all decision-making at No. 10. Dan Carter, Stephen Larkham, Andrew Mehrtens, Michael Lynagh – are all legends of Trans-Tasman rugby over the past few decades due to their proficiency in these areas.

I like a good set of numbers. Stats don’t tell you everything, but they can be a good bit of fun to look at. In the URC a new methodology to test a player’s effectiveness was revealed – expected points, or xP.

It weighed up players’ stats such as run metres, penalties conceded, try assists etc and assigned points (either plus or minus) based on how important the play was for the game.

For example, winning a turnover at +0.6 points has a greater impact on the game than beating a defender at +0.1 points.

The complete set of points hasn’t been published online, but I found the overview and applied it to the top playmakers from Australia and NZ for this season. Here are the points values:

Try = +1.4
Try Assist = +1.4
Clean Break = +0.3
Running metres = +0.1 for every 10 metres run
Defenders beaten = +0.1 each
Turnovers Won = +0.6
Turnovers Conceded = -0.4
Penalties Conceded = -0.5

So are the No. 10s stacking up?

Carter Gordon +17.66
Damian McKenzie +14.80
Richie Mo’unga +14.48
Beauden Barrett +11.26
Noah Lolesio +6.18
Ben Donaldson +3.84

One area where the xP scoring system was not clear was for tackling. But that is easy to look at on its own:

Tackles made, tackles missed, tackle %

Gordon 108 / 17 / 86%
McKenzie 60 / 9 / 87%
Lolesio 50 / 15/ 77%
Donaldson 42 / 7 / 86%
Mo’unga 40 / 11 / 78%
Barrett 20 / 6 / 77%

We all know Gordon is an excellent defender with a high work rate. McKenzie has been pretty successful this season and there isn’t much between the rest.

Carter Gordon of the Rebels kicks the ball
Carter Gordon kicks the ball during a Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

There is so much more to being a great No. 10 than just the numbers but the data backs up my eye test on how the players this season are performing.

There is good and bad for Australian rugby from these numbers. For one, it is excellent to see how well Gordon has performed compared to McKenzie, Mo’unga and Barrett (who are all world-class players in their own right).

But the Kiwis currently have three No. 10s who stack up very well. For us, it’s Gordon then daylight. Similar to when we had Larkham at No. 10.

Of course, Quade Cooper played well last year but he may not have many years left in his legs. Is it going to be another decade of sweating on Gordon’s fitness for the Wallabies like it was with Larkham?

Either way, it is going to be a great ride. The future looks pretty good when we have a No. 10 playing in the third-last placed team in Super Rugby playing so effectively.

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