Champions Cup stat leaders: Destructive Fijian, elusive France star and back-row workhorse ‘pressing for Springboks recall’

Jared Wright
La Rochelle and Fiji star Levani Botia, Bulls and Springboks speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse and back-rower Elrigh Louw.

We dive into the weekend's Champions Cup stats.

Following the Investec Champions Cup round of 16, we take a closer look at the individual stat leaders and top performers from the weekend’s action and the entire tournament.

Harlequins, Bulls, Exeter Chiefs, Bordeaux, Leinster, Northampton Saints and Toulouse all picked up home wins to progress to the quarter-finals while La Rochelle were the only side to secure a victory on the road.

An enthralling weekend saw many top team and individual performances, and we run through the latter and highlight the stat leaders with the help of Oval Insights.

Attacking stats: Points, carries, metres, defenders beaten

Jamison Gibson-Park scoring for Leinster against Leicester Tigers.

Jamison Gibson-Park scoring for Leinster against Leicester Tigers.

Leinster cruised to a 36-22 victory over Leicester Tigers on Saturday evening and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park led the way for the Irish province scoring three tries at Welford Road.

His 15-point haul saw him top the points tally from the weekend’s action. It was a good weekend for the scrum-halves, with George Horne scoring 14 points for Glasgow Warriors in defeat to Harlequins, grabbing a try, a penalty and three conversions.

Meanwhile, Mateo Garcia rose to the challenge of filling Matthieu Jalibert’s boots in a crucial clash, scoring 14 points – including two tries – in the 45-12 win over Saracens. Marcus Smith (13) and Handre Pollard (12) rounded out the top five on the scoring charts this weekend.

Gibson-Park’s impact was not just on the scoresheet as he gained 90 metres, beat five defenders and three clean breaks – the best tally by a scrum-half this weekend.

Recently capped England international Ethan Roots not only scored a crucial try in the 21-15 win over Bath Rugby but was a wilful carrier for Exeter racking up 28 carries in total – the most of the weekend.

Investec Champions Cup Team of the Week: ‘The conductor’ runs the show as winning teams rewarded in round of 16

Root’s tally bettered Leicester Tigers’ Jasper Wiese’s tally of 23 while Lyon winger Monty Ioane copped the carry count for a backline player (18), just one ahead of Toulouse’s Blair Kinghorn.

Bulls back rower Elrigh Louw continues to press for a recall to the Springboks squad and put in another mammoth shift featuring in the top five for carries, making 17 in total, but he was incredibly effective with ball in hand as he made 32 post-contact metres – the most by one player in the round of 16.

Northampton Saints star George Hendy certainly stole the headlines with his double off the bench against Munster, but fellow outside back James Ramm also impressed, gaining 127 metres with the ball in hand – the most of the weekend’s action. Hot on his tails was Bulls and Springboks winger Kurt-Lee Arendse (119), Bordeaux star Louis Bielle-Biarrey (114) and Stormers’ man of the match Damian Willemse (111).

Ramm was extremely elusive, beating eight defenders, and while that is certainly a respectable tally, it was emphatically bettered by Bordeaux’s Damian Penaud, who terrorised the Saracens’ defence, beating 13 defenders.

Meanwhile, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso beat 12 Bath defenders, and Arendse evaded nine Lyon defenders – the third-best tally of the weekend.

Jacques Nienaber to impart Springboks ‘secrets’ on Leinster ahead of massive Champions Cup quarter-final

Defensive stats: Tackles, turnovers won

Harlequins had to dig deep to secure passage to the Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals, and none more so than openside flanker Will Evans.

The 27-year-old put in a mighty shift against the all-Scotland international back row, making a remarkable 22 tackles, including two dominant tackles. Evans has been a turnover machine for the Famous Quarters this season and managed two more turnovers against Glasgow.

It was a busy weekend for the Premiership forwards, with Sam Underhill (21), Charlie Ewels (21), Curtis Langdon (20) and Quinn Roux (20) rounding out the top five tacklers from the weekend’s action.

Arendse didn’t only star on attack for the Bulls as he managed four turnovers against Lyon with the French side’s centre Alfred Parisien matching his tally.

Fijian and La Rochelle powerhouse Levani Botia won three turnovers against the Stormers and made three dominant tackles, helping the defending champions become the first visiting club to register a Champions Cup victory in South Africa.

READ MORE: Champions Cup law discussion: Bulls try ‘should not have stood’ as law needs enforcing

Round of 16 top performers

Points: 15 – Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster Rugby)
Carries: 28 – Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs)
Metres: 127 – James Ramm (Northampton Saints)
Defenders beaten: 13 – Damian Penaud (Union Bordeaux-Begles)
Tackles: 22 – Will Evans (Harlequins)
Turnovers won: 4 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Alfred Parisien (Lyon)

2023/24 Champions Cup stat leaders

Points: 64 – Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
Tries: 5 – Thaakir Abrahams (Lyon), Louis Bielle-Biarrey (Union Bordeaux-Begles), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
Carries: 87 – Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)
Metres: 422 – Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints)
Line breaks: 12 – Matthis Lebel (Toulouse)
Defenders beaten: 29 – Damian Penaud (Union Bordeaux-Begles)
Offloads: 17 – Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)
Tackles: 78 – Will Evans (Harlequins)
Turnovers won: 9 – Will Evans (Harlequins), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
Lineouts won: 28 – Maro Itoje (Saracens)