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How we ranked the best goal line stands

While we were creating our best try saving tackles compilation, it became obvious that we weren’t quite doing the defensive teams justice by focusing on the last tackle. So we went back and dissected the times when a team was up against their own goal line, with the opposition hard on attack, and managed to come out on top. This was actually a harder process than you might think. During some of these game like AUSvWAL and NZvARG, the defensive team repels the offense 3-4 times in a row. Is that all considered a goal line stand? Well for our purposes today, we’ve said that yes. If a team is defending their line for multiple set pieces as Namibia does in #10 against Georgia, we’ve typically merged multiple set pieces together.

#1 Who is the team attacking the goal line?

Defending your line against the All Blacks is different than defending your goal line against Namibia (all due respect to Namibia). In ranking the best goal line stands of the 2015 rugby world cup, we tried to think about the team with the ball and what is expected of them when on attack. Are they skilled in multiple areas of the game? Do they have more than one game breaker who you would expect to score when given the ball in space? The better the team, the better the effort by the defense to keep them out. Great examples of mis-matches in this countdown would be Canada against France in #8 and Argentina Vs New Zealand in #11.

#2 How many tackles were made? / How long did the attack last?

The longer an attack lasts in rugby, the more likely the offensive team is to score. In instances where the defense defends for 10+ phases, we’ve given extra ranking credit. Also, if the defense has survived multiple set pieces on their goal line, this gets even more Kudos. Take Namibia again against Georgia. They get 2 players binned, they survive multiple scrums with < 8 men in their pack and they somehow hold out. The entire passage of play last almost 10 minutes into injury time so we couldn’t include the entire clip for you. It’s truly incredible. The only reason it wasn’t ranked higher is that Namibia were actually saved by the referee who forced the teams to go to uncontested scrums and screwed Georgia in the process.

#3 Was there variety in the attack?

There are some clips in this countdown which almost exclusively involve ‘Pick N Go’s’. While that’s pretty captivating to watch for an extended period, its not necessarily difficult defense. Physical for sure, but not technically difficult. If you’r defending your goal line and all you need to do is make tackle after tackle 1 off the ruck, you can get by without thinking. The offense has effectively done your thinking for you. You just need to keep concentrating. However, if the attack has a lot of lateral movement, the defense needs to think, cover multiple attackers and make decisions on the fly All of this makes their job harder and in our countdown it help them rank higher. Were there rucks as well as mauls? There’s extra points for defending those too.

#4 How did the defense regain possession?

If the referee made some nonsense call and gave the ball back to the defense, this doesn’t help you rank as highly as if one of your flankers stole the ball in a tackle. In all the goal line stands there was only one real intercept opportunity, so we didn’t make too much of that for ranking purposes. It seems like teams do a better job of defense if they’re not going for intercepts. Imagine that. On the occasion where the defense was saved by the half-time whistle like Japan in #15, we decided that despite a great effort in defending their goal line, they didn’t really do the whole job themselves. The best goal line stands should for the most part, be un-assisted.

#5 How many times could you watch it?

In this particular instance, I’m a bit biased as an Australian, which will become obvious as you get through towards the end of the countdown. If for some to get the full version, you need to checkout the video on this page or push on over to our YouTube channel.

What’s next after the best goal line stands?

Finally, the best goal line stands are over. We’ve already released our compilation of the best try-saving tackles of the #RWC2015 – so if you haven’t checked that out yet, best head on over. Next up will be the best takes of the competition something to keep the backs happy.