Using insights by Sage, we've looked at how long ball was in the air from kicks
Throughout the tournament, we plan to track the Six Nations kicking trends, with help from insights by Sage, who provide data from Sportable’s in-ball technology. And while there’s lots that can be measured, from ball velocity to kick and pass distances, and whether the ball is thrown forward, we wanted to look at just how long the ball spends in the air, from kicks.
In round one of the 2024 Six Nations, the ball spent a total of 491.25 seconds in the air from kicks. That’s just over eight minutes of game time accumulatively, across the three games.
In France versus Ireland, the ball spent 149.70 seconds in the air (about two and a half minutes). Italy versus England had 149.55 seconds of ball-in-air time (yep, almost identical). And there was more in Wales’ encounter with Scotland, with 192.00 seconds in the air (that’s just over three minutes).
Now, what we’ve found looking at the available data from last year is interesting to compare. Yes we’ve only had one round of action, and there was no data available from round one last year, however, the amount of time for ball-in-air from kicks for round one this year is lower than rounds two, three, and four last year. And round five in 2023 was lower than the weekend, by just three seconds.
As you will see from above, the ball was in the air from kicks for 526.1 seconds in round two in 2023. That’s almost nine minutes.
Sticking with the Six Nations kicking approach of last year, the match with the highest ball-in-air time came in round three, when Wales hosted England. They had the ball in the air for 234.5 seconds (just shy of four minutes).
remember round five, as a whole, was lower by three seconds? Well clearly Scotland versus Italy impacted that number. In the Murrayfield match-up last year, the ball only spent accumulatively, 112 seconds in the air all game, which is short of two minutes. In fact, Italy are a common denominator for the matches last year with the lower-end ball-in-air time. Unsurprisingly.
It will be interesting to see what the trend for this tournament becomes after more action. And Wales facing England this year, with how both teams approach their games now, will be a fascinating case study.
The highest ball-in-air time in 2023, will Wales approach the fixture this time round as they did in the first half of their bonkers match against Scotland, when they wanted the ball sent skyward? Will England focus more on conquering the air? Or will both – as has been suggested – live out that promise of keeping ball in hand more?
As the pressure comes on, we’re all watching…
Smart ball insights by Sage. For more information visit sage.com/rugby
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