It's not what most rugby romantics want to hear, especially after Japan's arresting run to the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2019, but not having the ball is winning rugby.
New Zealand, England, Wales and South Africa, the top-four ranked teams in the world and the four semi-finalists at RWC 2019, each kicked the ball more than their quarter-final opponents last weekend.
And with the exception of the All Blacks, the other three also made fewer metres with ball in hand.
New Zealand trounced Ireland 46-14, England thrashed Australia 40-16, Wales edged France 20-19 and the Springboks comfortably put hosts Japan away by 26-3.
In each case, the winning team kicked the ball for more metres than their opponents while the losing team enjoyed more possession in three of the four matches.
Against England, Australia carried the ball 143 times and made 578 metres while they only kicked it 15 times for a total of 391 metres.
England carried 68 times and made a modest 275 metres, but they kicked 731 metres to force Australia to run from deep every time. Australia enjoyed 62% territory and 64% possession, lost the game by 24 points and were outscored by four tries...