International Rugby
Stats right: the big numbers from 2014
Richard Kelly
December 23, 2014
Julian Savea took his try-scoring tally to 30 from just 33 Tests in 2014 © Getty Images

It was another bumper year of rugby in 2014 as the game edged closer to the eighth staging of the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks maintained their stranglehold on the world No.1 Test ranking, winning 12 of 14 Tests as well as a third straight Rugby Championship while up north, it was all about Ireland as Joe Schmidt's side sent star centre Brian O'Driscoll out with the Six Nations crown.

The Super Rugby and Heineken Cup titles were taken out by New South Wales Waratahs and Toulon, respectively.

Read on as Richard Kelly takes you through some of the big numbers from 2014.

- Argentina finally broke their duck in the Rugby Championship by taking the scalp of Australia. It was their 18th Test in the tournament since their inclusion; in the previous 17 they'd shipped more than double the amount of points (530) they'd scored (252).

- Ireland had the best win rate of all tier one nations in 2014. They won nine and lost one, while the All Blacks won 12 of 14.

- Brian O'Driscoll became the most capped player in Test history, finishing his career with 141 appearances for Ireland and the British & Irish Lions. He is currently the sixth highest try-scorer ever amongst tier one nations, with 47 to his name.

Brian O'Driscoll (R) bowed out of Test rugby as a Six Nations winner with Ireland © Getty Images

- Richie McCaw became the first player to captain a nation on 100 occasions. The All Blacks have lost just 10 matches when the flanker has led them down the tunnel.

- Julian Savea took his tally to 30 tries in 33 appearances for the All Blacks, leaving coach Steve Hansen to publically liken him to Jonah Lomu. The former All Blacks superstar needed 48 caps to cross for his first 30 tries.

- As well as scoring four more tries (11) than the second-placed Israel Folau this year, Savea made at least nine more clean breaks (27) than anybody else. Folau also continued his rise to the top with a string of great performances. He gained 1384 metres over the gainline in 14 Tests, while nobody else managed to reach the four-figure mark. He also topped the charts for defenders beaten (61) and offloads (36).

Israel Folau remains one of world rugby's most dangerous attacking players © Getty Images

- Rodrigo Baez of Argentina made the most tackles without a single miss (44) in tier one internationals this year.

- Teddy Thomas became just the second Frenchman to score a hat-trick on debut with three five-pointers against Fiji in November. He followed that up with a try in his next Test against Australia and if he manages to cross the stripe during his next cap, he will achieve a feat managed by just three countrymen before him.

- NRL Grand Final man of the match Sam Burgess has had a quiet but promising start to life at Bath. He has managed five defenders beaten in just 10 carries so far, as well as making 17 hits in his first start in the European Champions Cup in mid-December.

- Australia's drab 6-0 defeat of France in Melbourne was the lowest scoring Test involving a tier-one nation since England beat Ireland by a solitary four-point try in 1977.

- England maintained the best lineout (92%) success rate this year, as well as the second best goal-kicking (82%) behind Wales (84%). New Zealand's ball retention at the scrum was better than any other nation (92%).

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- Australia's scrum problems this year were well documented, but they managed to win all of their own put-ins in three of their four November Tests; but lost two of four against Ireland. They lost 14 scrum feeds, and at least one in every game, in their previous 10 internationals this year. A more telling fact came at the opposition scrum though; their opponents winning 89% of their feeds this year.

- The Waratahs were worthy winners of Super Rugby; they topped the charts for carries, metres, defenders beaten, clean breaks, offloads, passes, tries and points this year. Kurtley Beale had a direct involvement (score + assist) in 20 tries this year for the Tahs, more than any other player in the competition.

© Opta Stats for ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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