Statisticians have hailed the All Blacks as the most adventurous team at a Rugby World Cup which rewarded attacking play.
World Rugby has unveiled its game analysis report from this year’s tournament which culminated in New Zealand defending their title by beating Australia in the final.
Off the field it was the best attended, most viewed, most socially engaged and the most competitive of all Rugby World Cups, the report said.
On the field, two key trends emerged.
The average winning margin across the 48 games was lower than any previous tournament, suggesting increased competitiveness of lower ranked teams.
And scoring tries is back in fashion, with a tournament-record average of five per game registered in the knockout stages – traditionally a domain for dour clashes.
There were five tries in the final when the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 34-17 at Twickenham.
New Zealand’s 39 tries led the tournament.
Their ability to score from lineouts was far greater than any team, the report said, along with tries which originated from inside their own half.
Other leading categories for the All Blacks was the best ruck retention rate and a near-infallible scrum retention rate.
World Rugby highlighted other areas which it says shows rugby has become a superior spectacle, comparing it with the 1995 tournament just before rugby became professional.
* Time the ball is in play has increased by 26 per cent to 44 per cent per match.
* Passes in a game have increased from 201 to 282 while rucks have increased from 94 to 178.
* Kicks have decreased from 59 to 39 per match and scrums have more than halved from 23 to 13.