Point-machines, try-getters and long-servers – a look at those players who shone statistically during the 2016-17 Aviva Premiership campaign
Wasps’ defeat in the Aviva Premiership final was a rare blot in Jimmy Gopperth’s 2016-17 gold-plated season. The Kiwi won a hat-trick of Player of the Year awards – Aviva Premiership, Rugby Players’ Association and Wasps – to go with the Gilbert Golden Boot award for scoring the most league points.
Most Premiership points
- 292 Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps
- 190 Stephen Myler, Northampton
- 183 Freddie Burns, Leicester
- 183 Gareth Steenson, Exeter
- 175 Alex Lozowski, Wasps
* Best in a season: 343 by Barry Everitt (London Irish, 2001-02)
In addition, his try at Northampton in round four, capping a brilliant counter-attack that started within Wasps’ own 22, won the Citizen Try of the Season, whilst at 33 years 333 days he became the oldest try-scorer in a Premiership final.
Wasps may have been pipped by Exeter to the English title but they provided twice as many players to the Dream Team chosen by BT Sport pundits. Gopperth is the fourth player to make the Premiership Dream Team with two clubs after Toby Flood, David Strettle and Tom Varndell.
Premiership Dream Team
15 Telusa Veainu, Leicester
14 Christian Wade, Wasps
13 Elliot Daly, Wasps
12 Brad Barritt, Saracens (capt)
11 Olly Woodburn, Exeter
10 Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps
9 Richard Wigglesworth, Saracens
1 Mako Vunipola, Saracens
2 Jamie George, Saracens
3 Kyle Sinckler, Harlequins
4 Joe Launchbury, Wasps
5 Courtney Lawes, Northampton
6 Don Armand, Exeter
7 Jackson Wray, Saracens
8 Louis Picamoles, Northampton
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said of Gopperth: “It’s difficult to put into words just how valuable Jimmy has been for our squad, both on and off the pitch. We all know he is a quality fly-half but his ability to play 10, 12, 13 and even a couple of games at full-back for us this season really helped the side.
“Jimmy always puts the team before himself and he’s played at a very high standard in every position he’s played. He’s a real clubman who deserves all the accolades he’s got. He’s also one of the most modest guys you could meet.”
Run Wade, run
Having matched Dominic Chapman’s try haul for a season when dotting down against Saracens in round 22, Christian Wade couldn’t find the score in the play-offs that would have given him the record outright.
But the Wasps wing still finished streaks ahead of the rest, and his second try against Bath at the Ricoh on Christmas Eve won Wasps’ Try of the Season – ahead of Gopperth’s effort at Franklin’s Gardens.
“The first thing Shaun Edwards taught me at Wasps,” Wade said on Wasps’ award night, “was when I get the ball to run. And that’s still what comes into my head.”
Most Premiership tries
- 17 Christian Wade, Wasps (1,803 minutes)
- 11 James Short, Exeter (1,061)
- 10 Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps (1,761)
- 10 Semesa Rokoduguni, Bath (1,501)
- 10 Denny Solomona, Sale (943)
- 10 Olly Woodburn, Exeter (1,621)
* Best in a season: 17 by Dominic Chapman (Richmond, 1997-98) and Christian Wade (Wasps, 2016-17)
Henson’s parting gift
Bristol’s relegation had nothing to do with poor goalkicking. If assessing those who took at least ten kicks at goal, Bristol occupy the top two places with Billy Searle’s ten out of 11 attempts (90.9%) giving him an edge over the Dragons-bound Gavin Henson (90%).
Raising the minimum criteria to a more substantial 20 kicks gives Henson first place and produces the following top six:
Best Premiership marksmen
- Gavin Henson, Bristol 18/20, 90%
- Tane Takulua, Newcastle 22/25 88%
- Freddie Burns, Leicester 62/72 86%
- Gareth Steenson, Exeter 77/91, 84.6%
- Billy Burns, Gloucester 32/38, 84.2%
- AJ MacGinty, Sale 40/48, 83.3%
* Minimum 20 kicks
Bath had the satisfaction of attaining the season’s biggest win, their 53-point drubbing of the Falcons still way short of the all-time 94-point record set by Richmond at Bedford in 1999.
Todd Blackadder’s side also achieved the fewest yellow cards, alongside Exeter, whilst plaudits too for Worcester’s Ryan Mills, whose eight penalty goals against Saracens fell only one short of the record of nine (which has occurred on seven occasions).
Most points in a game (club)
70, Wasps v Bristol (Ricoh Arena, 18 Sept)
Most points in a game (individual)
25, Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps v Gloucester (26 Feb)
Most penalties in a game
8, Ryan Mills, Worcester v Saracens (11 Feb)
53 points – Bath 58 Newcastle 5 (The Rec, 10 Sept)
Fewest yellow cards
5 Bath, Exeter
Most yellow cards (club)
14 Sale Sharks
Most yellow cards (individual)
3 Halani Aulika (Sale), Darren Barry (Worcester)
79,657 – Exeter v Wasps (Twickenham, 27 May)
51 secs – Brendan Macken, Wasps @ Worcester (4 Dec)
Quickest bonus-point try
29 mins – JP Pietersen, Leicester v Bristol (18 Feb)
So close for Dowson
Phil Dowson takes up an assistant coach’s role with Northampton this summer and he returns to the East Midlands as the second-most experienced Premiership player of all time.
The former England back-row finished his playing days with 262 Premiership appearances, just three shy of Steve Borthwick’s record.
The season also saw Tom Varndell overtake Mark Cueto in the all-time try list and Nick Evans climb to third spot in the points list prior to retiring and taking the job of Harlequins attack coach.
Most Premiership points (all time)
- Charlie Hodgson, 2,623
- Andy Goode, 2,285
- Nick Evans, 1,656
- Stephen Myler, 1,648
- Olly Barkley, 1,605
Most Premiership games (all time)
- Steve Borthwick, 265
- George Chuter, 262
- Phil Dowson, 262
- Charlie Hodgson, 254
- Tom May, 247
Most Premiership tries (all time)
- Tom Varndell, 92
- Mark Cueto, 90
- Chris Ashton, 80
- Steve Hanley, 75
- Christian Wade, 69
Exeter Chiefs are the eighth club to become English champions since the Premiership sprung into life in 1997-98.
Before heading off to Japan’s Top League, former Tiger Geoff Parling became only the seventh player to win a Premiership final with two clubs.
The previous six are Ayoole Erinle and Jeremy Staunton (both Wasps and Leicester), Richard Wigglesworth and Charlie Hodgson (both Sale and Saracens), and Christian Day and Ben Foden (both Sale and Northampton).
Peter Richards is the only man to play for three different clubs in a Premiership final – Wasps in 2004, Gloucester in 2007 and London Irish in 2009.
* Stats compiled by SFMS Ltd