According to Sanzaar’s Opta information, six Lions and Stormers players have earned inclusion in a South African Vodacom Super Rugby Team of the Decade.
Three of the Lions players are in the backline. Fullback Andries Coetzee made the third-most carries (868), metres gained (5,464) and defenders beaten (243) of any fullback, while wing Courtnall Skosan scored the second-most tries (35), carried for 3,313 metres and made the third-most clean breaks (103) of any back in the last decade.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies also put up some super impressive figures: he scored the second-most points (1,145) of any player in the last 10 years, also made the third-most try assists (59) of any player while gaining the most metres (2,902) and making the most clean breaks (50) of any South African No 10s.
Up front are Lions and Springbok forwards Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert and former captain Warren Whiteley. Marx, surely one of the biggest hookers in rugby, scored the second-most tries (30) of any forward in the last 10 years and also won the most turnovers (80) of any hooker, while Mostert gained the most metres (1,055) of any South African lock from his 540 carries and stole 33 lineouts.
Whiteley, now part of the Lions coaching team, made the most tackles (855) and second-most clean breaks (46) of any No 8 in this period.
The Stormers also have six players in the team including four formidable and hard-working forwards. The book-ends are Steven Kitshoff and France Malherbe while World Rugby 2019 Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit joins Mostert in the second row.
Du Toit beat the most defenders (69) of any South African lock from his 459 carries, he also won 26 turnovers and made 42 offloads.
Inspirational Springbok captain Siya Kolisi gets the nod at 6; only two forwards have gained more metres than Kolisi (2,100) from his 624 carries while he also made the second-most clean breaks (53) of any forward from his country.
In the centre paring the powerful Bok midfielder Damian de Allende is joined by the sole Bull in the team, Jesse Kriel who scored a try in four consecutive matches. On the left wing is Stormers entertainer Dillyn Leyds, who made 602 carries for 3,711 metres gained, while only three backs have made more clean breaks (93) in the last decade.
The remaining back is scrumhalf Louis Schreuder who has played for three of the South African teams – Stormers, Kings and Sharks. He played the most minutes (4,808) of any South African scrumhalf in the last decade and only one player made more than Schreuder’s 29 try assists; he also made 310 carries and beat 62 defenders.
Sharks teammate Jean-Luc du Preez gets the N0 7 jersey. He made the second-most carries (373) and metres gained (980) of any South African No 7; Du Preez also beat the third-most defenders (88) of any No 7 overall in this time.
Opta Index: How does it work
The Opta Index allows genuine opportunities to compare and contrast both player and team strengths and weaknesses across Super Rugby, providing real insights pre-game as follows:
After every match Opta completes a video analysis of every touch of the ball. Each action in the match is awarded a points value depending on the relative importance of the action. So, for example, a try scores more points than a tackle, but a player loses points for a missed tackle.
The points are then weighted against the score at the time when the action took place (higher points if the score is closer), the time in the match (higher points at the start of the match) and the position on the pitch where it took place (higher points for actions closer to the goal line).
The player is then given a score for the match by adding up all his actions while he was on the field. The total match score is then weighted to take account of the strength of the opposition so that performances across many matches can be judged fairly.