Analysis: South African impact on English Premiership

Following the culmination of the Premiership’s regular season, ANDRE-PIERRE CRONJE crunched the numbers to see what impact South Africa’s players had on the competition.

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When the Springbok squad to face the British & Irish Lions was announced, it was no surprise to regular viewers of the Premiership to see so many England-based players included.

The likes of Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez, Jasper Wiese and Faf de Klerk have all been exceptional for their English clubs this season and have rightfully merited Springbok selection.

These superstars, however, represent only a tiny fraction of South Africa’s representation in the Premiership. At all levels and across (almost) every team, South African players have had a vast and tangible impact.

It is almost reductive to attempt to quantify this impact, however, the stats do paint an interesting picture.

Of the 122 completed matches across the regular season, at least one SA player featured in all but three games. The exceptions being Gloucester vs Bristol (round 9), Bristol vs Wasps (round 13) and Bristol vs Northampton (round 14).

In total, SA players were selected in match-day squads 605 times during the regular season. This is the equivalent of 10.78% of all selected players. On average, in any given match, 4.96 South Africans would feature.

The team that picked the most South Africans over the course of the season was, unsurprisingly, the Sale Sharks. They picked SA players 175 times in the season – an average of 7.86 per match.

Bristol were the team that picked the fewest South Africans. Indeed, they were the only side not to pick a single SA player the entire season. The only Saffa on their books is coach Omar Mouneimne.

The average number of Saffas selected per match by each of the twelve teams are:

Sale Sharks: 7.86
Worcester Warriors: 4.63
Harlequins: 4.33
Leicester Tigers: 3.75
Newcastle Falcons: 2.26
Exeter Chiefs: 1.59
Northampton Saints: 1.58
Bath: 1.5
Gloucester: 0.9
London Irish: 0.74
Wasps: 0.36
Bristol Bears: 0
SA players have also been collecting other accolades. BT Sport has named Sale hooker Akker van der Merwe and Northampton lock David Ribbans in their team of the season and Leicester’s Jasper Wiese is on the shortlist for player of the season.
When the next Premiership season kicks off, fans can expect to see even more superstars come to England to make their mark. Players such as Jaco Coetzee, Juarno Augustus and Marco van Staden will be lighting up the competition in only a few months’ time.