Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
18 Sep 2018
10:15 am

Stats kings: The Springboks’ stars in the Rugby Champs to date

Heinz Schenk

From a try-scoring machine to a much maligned Lions skipper, these are the men lighting up the Rugby Championship in the Green-and-Gold.

South Africa's Aphiwe Dyantyi (R) tackles New Zealand's Damian McKenzie during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on September 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Marty MELVILLE

What had threatened to become another distinctly average Rugby Championship campaign for the Springboks now suddenly has the potential to become a pretty decent one.

Even if results have been inconsistent to date, quite a number of players have put up their hands, some of them rookies, others more established figures keen on reminding of their worth.

Here are the men who have shone in the stats department in the tournament to date.

APHIWE DYANTYI – Try-scoring machine (#2 in tries scored)

The 23-year-old has maintained his upward curve throughout the season since making his Test debut against England in June.

Dyayntyi’s four tries in 2018’s Rugby Championship renders him joint second on the list for most visits behind the whitewash.

Interestingly, when he’s been on the score sheet, the Lions sensation has made sure he takes full advantage – he’s scored a brace of tries against Argentina in Durban and the All Blacks in Wellington.

More importantly, Dyantyi isn’t just a finisher.

He’s South Africa’s best ball-carrier, having made 304 running metres, substantially ahead of national skipper Siya Kolisi (256m).

That places him seventh on the overall list.

WARREN WHITELEY – Relentless tackler (#1 in tackles made)

Warren Whiteley of South Africa during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Jonsson Kings Park on August 18, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The popular Lions captain still divides opinion in terms of his suitability for international rugby.

No-one doubts his commitment, it’s just a matter of whether he has enough “presence” during matches, something that can’t be quantified.

However, Whiteley undoubtedly played his best Test in a Bok jersey in Wellington and has generally impressed with some solid numbers in this campaign.

With 68 tackles, he’s currently the busiest defender in the tournament, a tally that includes six dominant hits (fifth-most in the campaign).

He’s carried the ball 153 metres and won four lineouts to underline his value.

PIETER-STEPH DU TOIT – All-round machine (#1 in dominant tackles)

Pieter-Steph du Toit of South Africa makes a break during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at Westpac Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The versatile 26-year-old forward has arguably been the Boks’ most valuable player.

Whether he’s been selected at lock or blindside flanker, Du Toit has simply given his all.

His nine dominant tackles makes him the competition’s most fearsome defender, while he only trails teammate Whiteley in most tackles made (64).

Du Toit’s 38 ball carries is the most by a South African, while he’s also won five lineouts in a set-piece brimming with jumpers to choose from.

It’s hard to think of him not being in a Bok starting line-up nowadays.

SIYA KOLISI  – Diligent and dynamic (#2 in dominant tackles, #4 in tackle breaks)

Siya Kolisi of the Springboks breaks through a tackle by Will Genia of the Wallabies during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the South Africa Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

There’s no doubt the Boks’ captain has grown in this campaign, even if there have been some hiccups along the way.

For the past few seasons, Kolisi has always been at the forefront of the national side’s defensive system and he hasn’t disappointed.

Eight of his 44 tackles have been dominant, only behind Stormers mate Du Toit, attesting to his continued commitment in that regard.

Yet Kolisi’s great strength has been to break free from the tight nature of Rugby Champs contests by becoming one of the tournament’s best ball-carriers.

The opensider has truly been expressive and effective on attack.

He’s made four linebreaks, the fourth-most, and also broken four tackles, which places him comfortably in the top ten.

Superb stuff from the Bok skipper.

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