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Wellington, Otago, Dan and goal kicking - study completed by NZR

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James Mortimer     16 Feb 2014     Getty Images

Using 582 Tests from 2002 to 2011, players were initially ranked on a percentage altered to account for kick location on the ground, the context of the match (based on score difference and time elapsed) and which stadium the kicker was at.

Wellington’s Westpac Stadium and Otago Stadium were ranked first and third for worst kicking venues with 67 and 68 percent respectively.

New Zealand has more venues in the top ten kicking graveyards (five) than any other nation.

Loftus is the most successful ground with a 77 percent rate along with Millennium Stadium, with Waikato Stadium the highest ranked Kiwi ground with a 76 success mark for kickers.

Overall, 72% of the 6769 kick attempts were successful.

Forty-five percent of points scored during the matches resulted from goal kicks, and in 5.7% of the matches the result of the match hinged on the outcome of a kick attempt.

There was an extremely large decrease in success with increasing distance and a small decrease with increasingly acute angle away from the mid-line of the goal posts.

All Blacks first five-eighth Dan Carter was ranked third overall on the list, behind first placed Morne Steyn (South Africa) and second ranked Federico Todeschini (Argentina).

Springbok Frans Steyn was fourth on the list, thanks to his success with prodigious kicks, for while he only kicked 59% of his 37 attempts, his successful strikes were taken at average 49 metres out, as opposed to 32 to 33 metres for the bulk of kickers.

Other capped All Blacks on the list were Andrew Mehrtens 13th, Steve Donald 20th, Piri Weepu 21th, Nick Evans 24th, Luke McAlister 27th, Leon Macdonald 41st, Colin Slade 94th, Aaron Mauger 97th and finally Carlos Spencer who was ranked 101.

Note the study account for kicking for points only.

There was then a further formula applied, taking into account the pressure involved, applying the above factors and then adding ‘clutch’ style factors.

“We rated the importance of the kick, based on the scores at the time and how far into the match,” Quarrie said.

“In general things become more important if the outcome is more doubt

“The most important kick then essentially is the one taken on the 80th minute with the match on the line.”

So Dan Carter, while rated as one of history’s great kickers (with an actual percentage of 77% out of 563 attempts), drops to 76th on the pressure list.

James O’Connor (Australia), Steyn and Stirling Mortlock (Australia) represent the top three kickers under extreme pressure.

Quarrie stressed that the study wasn’t definitive as a selection tool and that some gaps between players were decimmal, although he said Steyn stood out.

“When it came to pure numbers, Morne’s success rate was remarkable,” he said.

“However when looking at the players on the list, Carter stands out due to his other attributes not covered in this study, such as defence.”

The study also revealed that no team had overcome a deficit of greater than 13 points over the 582 Tests.

Notable examples outside of the study’s window where the comeback was greater was the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final against France (14 points), the 2001 Test against Ireland (14 points) and the 2013 international where the All Blacks came back from 19 points down to defeat the Irish.

The rankings spreadsheet can be viewed in full here.