It's not all about the stats, but stats are fun anyway.
Here we look at some of the stats records in the World Cup, and who might break them.
Points Career: Jonny Wilkinson, 249
Wilkinson has the all-time record. He set it after scoring 67 in 2007 to pass the great Gavin Hastings (227).
He will certainly have points-scoring opportunities playing for England, whether he’s the starting flyhalf or sharing time. Look for Wilkinson to challenge the 300-point barrier.
Note: no one else still playing is even close to Wilkinson’s astounding total. The next-highest total for an active player is Scotland’s Chris Patterson at 117.
Points Single Tournament: Grant Fox 126
Only Wilkinson in 2003 and Thierry Lacroix in 1995 have come within 15 of Fox’s amazing total (which is an average of 21 per game).
To break this record you need to be on a team that scores a lot of points, relies on its kicker a lot, and makes it to the semifinals. That could be Morne Steyn or Dan Carter or someone else, but frankly, even with seven games to play, in this world of multiple subs and resting key players, we don’t see Fox’s record being broken.
Tries Career: Jonah Lomu 15
The great Lomu scored his tries over two tournaments, most at wing but a couple as a No. 8 (!). Closest to Lomu are Brian Habana of South Africa and Mile Muliaina of New Zealand. Both men have eight, and therefore could catch big Jonah. Drew Mitchell of Australia, at 7, is also in with a shot.
To do that, however, those players have to have at least one huge game, where they score three or four. These types of records are won in blowouts. Of course, Lomu scored multiple tries against the likes of England and France.
Tries Single Tournament: Lomu, Habana 8
Lomu scored 8 in 1999, and Habana scored 8 in 2007. Certainly this record could be tied by almost anyone, and broken too. It’s the kind of record that has been held by wings, but could be open to any player on any good team.
Matches Career: Jason Leonard 22
Somewhat surprisingly, only one player is in position to equal this amazing record by former England prop Jason Leonard. That person is Jonny Wilkinson, who, if he plays in seven games, can tie his former teammate. The other 17 players who have 15 more games played are not in their country’s World Cup squad.
This is another upshot of the modern game, with more subs and a coach wanting to rest players, you don’t see large numbers of players starting every match.
Points Per Game in a Tournament: New Zealand 65.4 2007
New Zealand has four of the top five tournament PPG marks (England in 1999 were 4th all-time with 50.0). Oddly, their best three marks all came in years when they didn't win the event. Obviously their 2007 mark is affected by the fact they didn't play in the semis or the final.
It is highly unlikely that another team will top this.
Points Per Game Overall: New Zealand 44.6
No other team is even remotely close.
Most Tries Overall: New Zealand 232
Next best is Australia at 153.
Points Career: Mike Hercus 77
Mike Hercus is far and away the most prolific scorer in USA World Cup history. No active player is anywhere near him, and it would take a surprising turn of events indeed for a player to catch him now.
Points Single Tournament: Hercus 51
Hercus actually set the Eagle career record in a single tournament, specifically in the third match. His 51 points eclipses Kevin Dalzell’s 29 quite easily. It will take exactly what Hercus was, an effective goalkicker who also scored tries, for someone to break this record in 2011.
Tries Career: Kort Schubert, Ray Nelson 3
Schubert scored four tries for the Eagles in his career; three of them in an amazing four-game span in the 2003 World Cup. Nelson took two tournaments to do his damage, in 1987 and 1991, and his career points record held until 1999.
The career mark is definitely in jeopardy, as Taku Ngwenya and Lou Stanfill go into the tournament with two from 2007. Chris Wyles, Mike MacDonald and Mate Moeakiola all have one. Any of those players could surpass Schubert with a good tournament.
Tries Single Tournament: Schubert 3
It’s very tough to score that many, but if anyone could, we’re banking on Paul Emerick, Todd Clever, Chris Wyles, or Taku Ngwenya.
Matches Career: Alec Parker 10
The ageless Alec Parker could have played more were it not for injury. This record will almost certainly fall, or at least be tied. Mike MacDonald, who, the next time he runs on for the USA will set an Eagle record for caps, has eight World Cup appearances. No other player is close, but Big Mac could well leave Rugby World Cup with another impressive record.