TOKYO, 21 Sep - Kickers are often judged on their kicking success but this approach allows penalties, when the kicker has chosen to kick for points, to be included.
It also takes no account of where on the pitch attempts to score have been taken. Analysing conversion attempts since the last Rugby World Cup, with location of the kicks also included, provides a more accurate picture. On that basis, South Africa, Argentina and Wales are the most successful kickers over the past four years, with Namibia the best Tier 2 team.
Looking at the percentage of conversions since Rugby World Cup 2015, Argentina are first with an 84 per cent success rate, followed by Samoa (82 per cent) and Tonga (81 per cent). England are 14th, scoring 73 per cent of their extras, below the average across all 20 teams (75 per cent).
Ignoring the locations of kicks can provide a false picture, however, given England might score an unusually high proportion of their tries on the wings, while Samoa and Tonga may score a great deal under the posts.
Highest percentages of conversions scored 2016-2019
1. Argentina (84)
2. Samoa (82)
3. Tonga (81)
4. South Africa (80)
5. Wales (80)
When locations of conversion attempts are included, South Africa move up from fourth to first place. The Springboks have scored about 11 conversions more than expected given where they have kicked from. Argentina drop to second, with Wales now third.
Most successful teams with conversions, given location of kick 2016-2019
1. South Africa
4. New Zealand
Both Samoa and Tonga drop out of the top five kicking teams when the locations of their conversions are considered. Samoa drop to ninth and Tonga to 12th.
This is because such a high proportion of their attempts are from central locations, with 72 per cent of Tonga's conversions kicked between the two 15-metre lines. Samoa have taken 68 per cent of their extras from the central zone.
With the two Pacific Island nations dropping away, it is Namibia who emerge as the best of the Tier 2 teams at kicking for points. Taking account of their kicking locations, Namibia have scored about three conversions more than expected in the past four years.
Conversely, England rise from 14th on raw success rate to eighth, once locations are included. Owen Farrell and George Ford have to take 65 per cent of their conversion attempts from outside the 15-metre lines. Only South Africa score more tries outside the central area than the England team.
The Springboks' 80 per cent success rate from all conversions is remarkable, given that so many are taken from wide areas. Once this is taken into account, they become the most successful points kickers in the world.
Might that be one of the keys to winning a third World Cup?