I have been trying to collect accurate ball in play time data in rugby union since the late 1970s.
In 1995, my colleagues Gareth Potter and Alun Carter, at the Centre for Performance Analysis at UWIC in Cardiff, took the measurement of time in rugby union games to a new level of detail.
Their lapsed-time analysis of the thirty-two games played at the 1995 Rugby World Cup provided these time data:
The ball out of play time comprised:
Ball in play time in individual games ranged from a high of 31 min 56s (Australia v Canada) to a low of 21 min 50 s (France v Tonga).
The Final between South Africa and New Zealand had a total game time of 82 min 02 s and a ball in play time of 26 min 43 s.