Which Rugby Position Scores The Most And Least Tries?

Have you ever wondered which rugby position scores the highest number of tries? And how about the lowest?

We’ve analyzed every match in the 2019 Rugby World Cup to come up with some answers.

Of course, this is based on the professional game at international level. Wingers in club matches may not be racking up as many tries as in the World Cup.

Summary Of Tries Scored By Position At The 2019 Rugby World Cup

The table below is a breakdown by position of the number of tries scored during all matches in the most recent World Cup for Rugby Union.

If you’re interested in the data behind this summary, you can get the full data in this article on all tries in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

NumberPositionTries%
14right wing4115%
11left wing3814%
9scrumhalf2810%
13outside center2810%
15fullback269%
2hooker259%
7openside flanker166%
12inside center155%
10outhalf124%
8eight124%
6blindside flanker93%
3tighthead prop83%
1loosehead prop83%
5tighthead lock62%
4loosehead lock52%
RugbyDome.com

Before I provide some analysis on these statistics, I have to present some caveats about the numbers.

Substitutes

The data includes tries scored by substitutes, who of course are wearing shirts from 16 up to 23. These higher numbers don’t always represent the same position.

I’ve assigned tries scored by substitutes to the shirt number and position of the player that they replaced. There will be instances where the switch wasn’t a direct positional match.

Substitutes scored 32 tries at the Rugby World Cup.

Blindside and openside flankers

I’ve grouped the sixes and sevens separately as blindside and openside flankers.

However, some countries switch these positions. For example, the blindside flanker in South Africa traditionally wears seven, and the openside wears six.

I haven’t adjusted for this, so you can take the flanker breakdown as approximate. Kolisi, Louw, and du Toit all scored tries which may be grouped in the “wrong” category.

Penalty tries

If you tot up the total number of tries in the table, you may notice that it’s lower than the total tries scored in the tournament.

This is because I haven’t included penalty tries. These aren’t awarded to a specific position.

Which Position Scores the Most Tries In Rugby Union?

Based on the 2019 Rugby World Cup, wingers score the most tries in Rugby Union. The combined tries for all wingers were about 29% of the total tries in the tournament.

The right wing position scored 15% of all tries, and the left wing position scored 14%.

Hookers scored the most amongst forwards.

Analysis of wingers as being nearly equal in try-scoring

Historically, it used to be said that left wingers scored the most number of tries.

This was because players are typically right-handed and the ball moved with better accuracy and speed from right to left across the line.

This may still be the case in amateur rugby at club level. But professional players are expected to be able to pass well off either hand.

At the top level of the World Cup, there was hardly a difference between the positions in terms of the number of tries.

Analysis of scrumhalves being the third-highest try-scorers

Many scrumhalf tries come from a ruck close to the opposition try-line when nine picks up the ball and snipes for the line.

However, the French and South African nines are masters at running a supporting line when a winger breaks up the pitch in a wide position. Often, the nine will take a last-ditch pass and scamper over the line.

Analysis of hookers as the top try-scoring forwards

I was surprised to see the hookers score nearly the same amount of tries as fullbacks.

I suspect that many of these tries are from the back of a rolling maul.

Which Position Scores The Least Tries In Rugby Union?

Based on the 2019 Rugby World Cup, locks score the least tries in Rugby Union. The two positions of 4 and 5 each scored about 2% of all tries in the tournament.

The two props are the next lowest try-scorers, each scoring about 3% of the tries. Props and locks tend to score from rucks close to the try line.

The statistics don’t actually show whether a try is a mazy run from the halfway line or a six-inch pick-and-drive from a ruck!

But locks and props making try-scoring runs from further outfield are memorable occurrences because they are so rare!

What Is The Average Number Of Tries In A Rugby Match?

Based on the 2019 Rugby World Cup, an average of six tries were scored per match.

Two matches shared the highest number of tries with 11 in each match. There was a try in every match, with four games (including the final) seeing a low of two tries.

These numbers exclude penalty tries.

The Rugby World Cup may not be representative of the top professional club tournaments. Teams that are closely matched in standards are less likely to score a high number of tries, as the defenses cancel each other out.

What kind of matches has the highest number of tries?

Take a look at the top six try-scoring matches in the 2019 World Cup, and you’ll see a mismatch between top-tier countries and the second tier.

I’ve bolded the top-tier teams below. (The number of tries don’t include penalty tries).

DateHomeAwayTries
2019-10-08South AfricaCanada11
2019-10-06New ZealandNamibia11
2019-10-09ArgentinaUSA10
2019-09-22ItalyNamibia9
2019-10-09ScotlandRussia9
2019-09-28South AfricaNamibia9

What kind of matches has the lowest number of tries?

I wasn’t surprised to see that the World Cup Final was in joint position of the lowest number of tries. Finals in many sports tend to be cagey close affairs.

But can we draw insights from the other three lowest-try-scoring matches? Yes, I think so.

DateHomeAwayTries
2019-10-26EnglandNew Zealand2
2019-10-27WalesSouth Africa2
2019-09-30ScotlandSamoa2
2019-11-02EnglandSouth Africa2

The top four places in this World Cup went to

  • South Africa (the winners)
  • England (the losing finalist)
  • New Zealand (the winner of the third-place match)
  • Wales (the loser of the third-place match)

You can see from the table above that three of the four low-scoring matches involved these top teams going up against each other.

Can Any Player Score A Try In Rugby?

Any player who legally grounds the ball over the opposition try line is awarded a try.

Analysis from the 2019 Rugby World Cup shows that players across all fifteen positions scored at least one try in the tournament.

More Rugby Statistics

This article covered numbers of tries, but what about statistics about the total scores? Check out these other articles: