By The Numbers: The Stats behind the Rugby World Cup in Japan

So Rugby Union completes a ninth World Cup -- bringing it to where football was in 1974 -- with a tournament in which the fashionable pre-tournament pick proved to be the smart one. South Africa continued its 12-year cycle of victories, on the way trashing the theory that to lose one match was to lose hopes of the trophy.

Eddie Jones made a major impact for the fourth tournament, and with a fourth different team, in five, in the process inflicting on New Zealand their most conclusive World Cup defeat since 1991. Warren Gatland concluded his tenure by, for the first time, making a Welsh win look truly possible.

Japan was a spellbinding host, breaking into the game's top tier, and Uruguay had its greatest day. Elsewhere there was little to lighten worries over the future of the Pacific Islands, and still less cheer in the fortunes of the North Americans. France offered a hint of what it may do as host in 2023, until which time nothing can happen to alter the figures contained in our view of the 2019 tournament By The Numbers .....


Tries by England in two finals against South Africa, although it should be pointed out that it took South Africa 145 minutes to score in a final against England. Jason Robinson's score against Australia in 2003 remains England's only try in four finals.


Try scored by Russia made them the bluntest attack in Japan, but at least it was a memorable one -- the first of the tournament by Kirill Golosnitskiy in the first few minutes, before the hosts got their act together with a vengeance.


Yellow cards for TJ Ioane equalling the previous single-tournament record set by Fabio Ongaro of Italy in 2003 and Campese Ma'afu of Fiji in 2015. There were 28 in all, well down from the all-time peak of 51 set in 2015.


Was the ratio of tries to penalties, 285 to 107, easily the highest in World Cup history, almost double the ratio in 2015. Compared to an average of 1.36 tries per penalty across the previous eight tournaments and way ahead of the previous record of 1.75, 224 to 128, in 1987.


Titles for South Africa in three different continents and in two tournaments fewer than New Zealand. England's third final defeat equalled France's unwanted record, but at least they have that one victory to set against it.


Teams who had previously played in World Cups -- former ever-presents Romania, Zimbabwe and one-offs Portugal, Ivory Coast and Spain, were absent from Japan. With former promising contenders like Tunisia and Korea apparently in retreat, we're left to wonder if anyone new will break in to France 2023.


Drop goals was the lowest ever, compared to 8 in 2015, continuing the decline of the score. A revival looked possible when Wales knocked over two against Australia, but the final total was fewer than Jonny Wilkinson landed by himself in 2003, only one more than Jannie de Beer kicked in a single barrage against England in 1999.


Winning appearances was the record shared by eight of the triumphant Springboks of whom benchwarmers Frans Steyn, who became the first Bok with two winners' medals, and Vincent Koch had impeccable 6-0 records after not appearing in the pool stage defeat by New Zealand.


Starts was the less noted distinction achieved by Welshman Josh Adams during the tournament, the only player to attain the maximum. Other ever-presents made at least one appearance from the bench while England and New Zealand had a match cancelled. Wales hooker Elliott Dee was the only player to appear seven times as a replacement, matching the feat of Australia's Matt Cockbain in 2003 and Springbok Trevor Nyakane in 2015.


Tries made Adams the leading scorer in the tournament, although one guesses he'd have swapped the lot for the one scored in the final by runner-up Makazole Mapimpi for South Africa and the medal it helped earn him. Kotaro Matsushima claimed five for Japan. Adams fell short of the single-tournament mark of eight held by Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea, but set an all-time mark for a European, beating the six previously scored by Jean-Baptiste Lafond (1991), Shane Williams (2007), Chris Ashton and Vincent Clerc (2011). Adams scored more tries in this World Cup than any other two European players, the next highest being a number with three.


World Cup matches have now been played between Wales and Australia, matching the all-time record set in 2015 when New Zealand played France in the quarterfinal. Each series is 5-2 in favour of the southern hemisphere.


Points conceded per match by South Africa, making them the most effective defence ahead of England (12.50) and NZ (12). Wales's average of 21 made them, against all expectation, the most porous of all the playoff teams except Australia (21.60).


Points scored by Canada, equalling the lowest ever by a World Cup participant. Amid so much that was positive in this World Cup, the decline of the first nation to make an impact outside the traditional elite at World Cups, playing well in 1987 and giving the All Blacks a tough quarterfinal in 1991, was one of the sadder sights. Their points ratio of 14 to 177, or 12.65 points against for every one they scored, was the worst in World Cup history, although all of this is qualified by noting that their match against Namibia was one of the three cancelled as an extreme weather precaution.


Defeats across four tournaments make Eugene Jantjies, who played in all three of Namibia's matches in 2019, the most defeated World Cup player of all time, overtaking the magnificent Romanian Ovidiu Tonita, a member of 12 losing teams.


Years and 97 days, the age of Georgia hooker Vano Karkadze when he played against Uruguay, made him the youngest player at the 2019 World Cup, but the all-time record remains with his teammate Vaso Lobzhanidze, who played four times as an 18-year old in 2015.


Conversions by Richie Mo'unga were comfortably the most by anyone at the 2019 World Cup, but the all-time record remains with another All Black, Grant Fox's 30 in the 1987 tournament.


World Cup appearances by Alun-Wyn Jones, the last in the third place match, left him one behind all-time record-holders Jason Leonard and Richie McCaw. McCaw's all-time caps record of 148 may fall to him well before the end of the two years remaining on his WRU contract, but another World Cup at 38 might be a stretch. Sam Whitelock (19 appearances) and Australia's career bench-warmer James Slipper (18) might have a better shot at Leonard and McCaw.


Consecutive World Cup defeats for Namibia, and not a single win. If the Canadians were disappointed when their match was called off, it is a fair bet the Namibians were downright furious.


Points was the average winning margin spread across the 45 matches, the highest since 2007 but well down on 32.85 in 2003.


Points by Adam Hastings for Scotland against Russia was the highest single-match tally followed by 22 from Handre Pollard in the final. Hastings' mark was the joint 21st highest in World Cup history, those ahead of him including his father Gavin who on different occasions scored 44, 31 and 27 points. The non-Hastings Scottish record is 26 by Greig Laidlaw against Samoa in 2015.


Tries made New Zealand the highest scorers, in spite of the cancellation of their match against Italy, depriving them the chance of the first 6-0 record in a World Cup rivalry. It is the eighth time in nine tournaments the All Blacks have topped this category. Scotland are the only team ever to beat them, edging the All Blacks out by 20 tries to 19 in 1991.


Years and 187 days was the age of Kane Thompson when Japan played South Africa in the quarterfinal, making him the oldest player in 2019 just ahead of the indestructible Schalk Brits. It places him third on the all-time list behind Diego Ormaechea, who played for Uruguay in 1999 and Canadian centre Spence McTavish, who played against Ireland in 1987. At 71, McTavish is the oldest living World Cup player.


Penalties across two tournaments place Pollard second in the all-time list for World Cups, behind only Jonny Wilkinson (58) and taking him past Gavin Hastings and Fox (37 each). He'll only be 29 in 2023, so should be young enough to take a shot at Jonny.


Wins for New Zealand in all World Cups, top of the list ahead of Australia (43). Not completing their half-century in 2023 would be a World Cup shock to dwarf any in the previous nine tournaments. Their success rate of 87.50 percent still heads the list ahead of South Africa.


Points were enough to make Pollard the highest scorer at the 2019 World Cup, ahead of Owen Farrell (58), Mo'unga (54) and Japan's Yu Tamura (51). His total was lower than in 2015, when he scored 93 points but was edged out at the top of the list by Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez (97) and is 23rd all-time in a list headed since 1987 by Fox's 126 points in the first tournament.


Percent, 208 out 285, was the success rate of conversion-takers, better than the last three tournaments, but the average has been in a narrow band between 69 and 73.5 since 1995, with the exception of the 78.9 percent achieved in 1999.


Penalties represented a spectacular drop on previous tournaments, an all-time low even though the first three tournaments consisted of only 32 matches, compared to 45 at this one. An average of 2.38 penalties was barely half of the 4.66 per match in 2015, and hugely down on the previous low of 3.56 in 2011. For the first time ever, conversions were responsible for more points, 416, than the 321 from penalties.


Minutes were played by South Africa in their three final appearances before Mapimpi crossed for their first try. But they had trailed for only 13 of those minutes, all in the early stages of the final against New Zealand in 1995, and none of us needs reminding how all three matches finished.


Points mean that South Africa finished as the highest scorers as well as the best defenders, although it must be a fair bet that New Zealand would have scored the 13 needed to overtake them had their match against Italy taken place.


Different players appeared at the 2019 World Cup, down on 624 at the 2015 tournament but in three fewer matches.


Points were scored, the lowest since the tournament was extended to 20 teams in 1999. Although one element in this was the loss of three matches -- the average number of points per match was lower in 2011 -- the main one was the crash in the number of penalties kicked.

Until 2023......