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Scotland show superior risk management by maximising ‘red zone’ scoring efficiency and playmaker Russell kicking twice as much as Farrell

The QBE Risk & Reward Index demonstrates that Scotland surprised fans by managing the risk and reward elements of the game significantly better than England.

Scotland played more in the opposition Red Zone and, unlike England, turned those visits into points.  Playmaker Finn Russell mitigated risk much better than his opposite number Owen Farrell by kicking more than twice as often, and for nearly twice the territory. Scotland not only maintained their record as the best defence from last year’s tournament but improved and outperformed England in their attack, set piece and discipline.

The QBE Risk & Reward Index is a unique and innovative new data tool which shows how rugby teams trade off risk taking and risk mitigation in order to win games in the Guinness Six Nations tournament.

QBE Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio said:

“The QBE Risk & Reward Index shows that Scotland beat England last Saturday by managing the risk and reward elements of the game better.  Scotland not only spent more time in the Red Zone than England but converted that into points, whereas England were woeful at Red Zone efficiency.   Finn Russell mitigated risk much better than Owen Farrell by kicking more than twice as much and for nearly double the metres in territory.  England were clueless but Scotland not only maintained their record as the best defence but outperformed England in their attack, set piece and discipline.  England need to have a cold hard look at how they play in the Red Zone as they are the worst performers so far in terms of points scored and efficiency.  Fortunately for Eddie Jones, England can only improve from their performance at Twickenham in the Calcutta Cup.”

The QBE Risk & Reward Index shows that Scotland beat England on 6 February through:

  • Better risk and game management by scoring in the opposition Red Zone, with Red Zone efficiency of 0.69 more than twice higher than England’s 0.27, with more entries (16) than England (11) and by seven times more phases (42) than England (6) in the Red Zone.
  • Avoiding risk by Scotland’s Finn Russell kicking twice as much for territory with 461 metres and 17 times compared to England’s Owen Farrell kicking 265 metres and 8 times.
  • Managing risk with better defence by missing more than a third less tackles (8) than England (27) and conceding more than a half less penalties (7) than England (17).

When compared with their average per game performance in the 2020 tournament, Scotland:

  • Maintained their best defence record with tackle success at 92% (92.5%) and improved on their missed tackles at 8 (12)
  • Improved their attack record with the best territory 58% (55.8%) and perfect lineout success at 100% compared to 76.1%, the worst performance in the tournament in 2020
  • Increased the number of their Red Zone entries to 16 (12) and the most number of phases in the Red Zone to 42 (33.2) but worse Red Zone efficiency of 0.69 (0.98)

In the 2020 Six Nations England won the tournament, with the best risk and game management, by on average per game:

  • Conceding the least number of turnovers
  • Having the most entries into the opposition Red Zone but the fourth highest Red Zone efficiency (1.14)
  • Kicking the most

By contrast, in 2020 Scotland came fourth in the tournament, with the best defence, by on average per game:

  • Conceding the most turnovers
  • Having the least lineout success
  • Having the fifth highest Red Zone efficiency (0.98)
  • Conceding the least points
  • Having the highest tackle success

Only Italy had less entries into the Red Zone and worse Red Zone efficiency in the 2020 season than Scotland and less points scored in the Red Zone on average per game.

On Saturday, Scotland added three new attributes to their game, in better attack, set piece and discipline, from last year and saw the rewards.


Sam Harrison, Managing Director of Insurance at QBE Europe, said: “As experts in managing risks for businesses, we have applied the same principles of risk management analysis to identify the key moments when risk and reward are calibrated to provide a predictable outcome. For the first time rugby fans will be able to discover and understand the data behind each team’s approach to the tournament and see how it affects their chances of success. QBE is delighted to be able to introduce these fascinating and hidden aspects of the game to rugby fans across the globe.”

Developed by QBE and rugby performance analysts, the QBE Risk & Reward Index goes deeper than conventional rugby analysis by considering the role that defensive and attack risk taking has in winning the Six Nations in 2020 through a number of key performance indicators. The Index then correlates the approach of the teams, and some key playmakers, towards managing risk in the way they play and its impact on success on the pitch in winning matches.

For the first time in rugby analysis, the huge bank of available statistics and metrics are incorporated into an easy to understand measure of risk and reward which shows where and how the game has been and will be won or lost.

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For further information and interviews please contact:

Mike Houghton

Mob: +44 (0) 7789 167009



Ian Lindsley

Mob: +44 (0) 7887 681561



Sandra Villanueva, Corporate Communications

Tel: + 44 (0) 7920 214144



Alexis Burris, Corporate Communications


+ 44 (0) 203 465 3921 

Notes to Editors

The QBE Risk & Reward Index


2020 Six Nations Correlations

The QBE Risk & Reward Index provides unrivalled insight into how the upcoming Six Nations is expected to be played and which team is most likely to emerge victorious. As experts in analysing, assessing and managing risks for businesses, QBE Insurance have adapted their techniques to work with analysts in the world of rugby – forming a unique insight into the way each team plans and plays to win and then manages the uncertainty of how reality plays out in a game.  The Index also brings to life the tactical nous of each team’s coach and play makers, ranking their systems and style into a digestible and easy to understand format which demonstrates how managing risk can lead to the reward of winning games.

Points scored in the Red Zone (or final quarter of the pitch between the try line and about 22m) have the highest correlation (93%) to winning matches.  So how a team manages risk, not making an error and achieving a positive outcome, in the final quarter of the opponent’s half is crucial to success. A team which scored more points in the Red Zone then went on to win 93% of the time, with 73% of wins related to higher rates of entry to the Red Zone and 53% for Red Zone efficiency (a positive outcome per entry).

Total kicks in play also has the highest correlation with winning games at 93%.  Playing for territory by kicking, and thus playing without the ball, was the most successful risk management strategy. There was only one game in the 2020 tournament where the team who kicked less won the match.

Positive outcomes, where the team who completed their possessions and avoided errors more than their opposition won 87% of the time.

Turnovers lost, where again a team which avoided errors with the fewest turnover won 80% of the time.

Gainline success has a very high correlation with the reward of winning matches at 80%.  Getting over the gainline puts huge pressure on the opposition but the win rate is even higher at 87% for before gainline carries where a team is not stopped before the gainline and thus avoids high risk situations where errors are likely to be made.


Turnovers won and penalties conceded. Turnovers lost usually have a high risk in that the outcome is often penalties conceded.  In fact taking that risk of conceding a penalty is actually worth it as turnovers won has a very high correlation at 73% with victory whereas the team that conceded more penalties than their opposition went on to win more often.  Only 47% of teams that conceded the least penalties went on to win.

Playing off positions 9, 10 and 12, scrum half, fly half and inside centre respectively. Teams who played off their 9 more than their opposition, and thus which managed the risk down by keeping the ball tight, were much more likely to win matches at 67%. The respective figures for 10 at 47% and 12 at 33% demonstrates that playing wider means that teams lost more often.  The wider a team plays the more chances for errors with more links to the chain and less support to resource breakdowns.

Possession time and carries. There is a low correlation between possession time and carries both at 33% in winning matches.  This demonstrates that mitigating risk and reducing errors by playing without the ball was more likely to win matches.



About QBE

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2019 was US$13.4 billion.

As a business insurance specialist, QBE European Operations offers a range of insurance products from the standard suite of property, casualty and motor to the specialist financial lines, marine and energy. All are tailored to the individual needs of our small, medium and large customer base.

We understand the crucial role that effective risk management plays in all organisations and work hard to understand our customers’ businesses so that we offer insurance solutions that meet their needs – from complex programmes to simpler e-trading solutions – and support them in minimising their risk exposures. Our expert risk management and rehabilitation practitioners focus on helping customers improve their risk management so that they may benefit from a reduction in claims frequency and costs.