chapter  54
7 Pages

Rugby's penalty problem - myth or reality?

Table 1. Total number of penalties kicked in each decade since 1947 and the eight years to 1994

Penalties kicked

1947 - 1956 1957 - 1966 1967 - 1976 1977 - 1986 1987 - 1994 (8 years)

Five Nations

115 125 289 432 348

Average number per match

1.1 1.2 2.9 4.3 4.3

Working within the above definitions, an analysis was made from the four categories listed above. In addition the data were examined in two groups to determine if there was any ethnic effects on the way in which matches were won and lost. The two groups were defined as:-

Group A: matches played in the 'Five-Nations' Championship Group B: all other matches between International Board (IB) countries

3.1 Group A - 'Five-Nations' matches An analysis of the 478 matches produced the results shown in Table 2. This combined table shows that penalties have had some sort of effect in only 81 games out of 478 - i.e. some 17% of all Five-Nations matches - and the percentage has not varied greatly in any decade since 194711956, with the last 8 seasons showing a total that was substantially less than in the previous decade, and at a rate no worse than 40 years ago. It appears therefore that despite a considerable increase in the number of penalties being kicked, very few Five-Nations matches are won through penalties and the figure is declining.