Springbok outcast dominates top stats in United Rugby Championship despite Sharks struggles

Dylan Coetzee
Aphelele Fassi on the charge for the Sharks.

Aphelele Fassi on the charge for the Sharks.

The United Rugby Championship round 14 has come and gone, loaded with some interesting results as the playoff race continues to head up with just four games remaining.

Now that the dust has settled on the action we take a closer look at the top performers in the URC to date with some interesting leaders emerging.

Forgotten Springbok

Aphelele Fassi last donned the green and gold against Wales in 2022 but has since firmly fallen out of the Springboks picture. That has not stopped him from working hard and growing his game which has been clear to see this season as he has stood tall in a battling Sharks outfit.

Fassi, affectionately dubbed ‘The Weekend Special’ leads the URC in two categories gaining 967 metres with ball in hand so far this season – 150 metres more than any other player in the competition. That isn’t the only statistic that showcases his running ability this season with his 18 clean breaks also a competition high.

In truth, his attacking prowess was never in question when considering his Test credentials with his ever-improving defence the main concern. Only time will tell if Fassi has done enough to convince the Springboks braintrust.

Most carries

Fassi also ranks highly in total carries as he sits in second spot, well behind Munster number eight Gavin Coombes who has been absolutely emptying the tank every week for the province.

Coombes’ 191 carries is well ahead of Fassi’s 148 which is shared by Stormers number eight Evan Roos. Meanwhile, Cathal Forde of Connacht (139) and Glasgow Warriors Josh McKay (138) round out the top five.

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Most defenders beaten

McKay has been the most effective player with ball in hand this season having registered an impressive 37 defenders beaten thus far. His elusive running has been one of the highlights of a strong campaign for Glasgow thus far.

Another Glasgow Warrior is just behind him with Stafford McDowall beating 36 defenders, so too Scarlets’ Ioan Lloyd. Edinburgh duo Wes Goosen and Duhan van der Merwe complete the top five.

Most points

Staying with Edinburgh it is one their own from Scotland’s capital who leads the way in points scored with fly-half Ben Healy having notched up 138 so far.

He has been central to a mini-revival for Edinburgh who are well in the playoff picture. Healy leads Bulls pivot Johan Goosen on 114, Cardiff star Tinus de Beer (106), Connacht’s JJ Hanrahan (104) and Benetton’s Jacob Umaga on 97.

Most tries

They don’t call him Johnny ‘Five Tries’ Matthews for nothing. The favourite Glasgow hooker is well ahead in the try-scoring charts with 12 – four ahead of the next player Akker van der Merwe of the Bulls on eight.

The only backline player in the top five comes next in the form of Kyle Rowe of Glasgow on seven tries the same number shared by Ulster’s Tom Stewart and Lions number eight Francke Horn.

Most tackles made

Leading the way in one of the hardest-working categories is Scarlets star Alex Craig who has made a whopping 181 tackles for the Welsh side this season.

Craig is the only player over the 180 mark with Stormer Ruben van Heerden on 174, Coombes features again with 164 while Ulster’s Nick Timoney and Connacht’s Shamus Hurley-Langton are on 155.

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