Is Rugby still a game for all shapes and sizes?
In the professional era our international players was transformed into world-class athletes. The recent World Cup highlighted the skills and sheer physicality of these players as the demand for faster, fitter and stronger players grows. Size is not everything and being large is no longer enough as rugby has evolved into a sport of hyper-fit men and women who push the boundaries of human ability. But how big do I need to be, is a question asked by many schoolboys.
The average size of World Cup players was taken into account when the optimal height/weight ratios were calculated.
The optimal height/weight ratios are as follows:
1. loosehead - 1.83-1.89m/118-125kg
2. hooker - 1.83-1.89m/110-115kg
3. tighthead - 1.83-1.89m/118-125kg
4. lock - 2.00-2.05m/114-120kg
5. lock - 2.00-2.05m/114-120kg
6. blindside - 1.90-1.96m/110-115kg
7. openside - 1.85-1.90m/105-110kg
8. 8th man - 1.90-1.96m/110-120kg
9. scrum halve - 1.75-1.80m/80-90kg
10. fly halve - 1.75-1.85m/85-95kg
11. wing - 1.85-1.90m/90-105kg
12. inside centre - 1.80-1.90m/90-100kg
13. outside centre - 1.80-1.90m/90-100kg
14. wing - 1.85-1.90m/90-105kg
15. fullback - 1.85-1.90m/90-100kg
How much bigger must we get?
Overall, research suggests that we've actually now reached a size plateau in professional rugby players. Now that the nations traditionally represented by less-developed players than their high-tier team competitors have increased in size, we can predict an outgoing plateau reflected in future statistics.
Furthermore, if players were to continue to increase in size it would negatively impact upon their performance. If players were to get much bigger, they would struggle with the increased work rate of the modern game. This is illustrated by statistics from OPTA Sports, showing that in the 1991 World Cup there were an average of 91 tackles per game - an average which increased tremendously to 197 tackles per game by 2011. Furthermore, in the current game the ball is often out of play less often too, due to a significant fall in interruptions from line-outs and scrums.
In essence, aspiring pro athletes need not be daunted by the projected reports of demands for increasingly large players. Not only has the projected ideal represented by World Cup players reached a plateau but also there is no biomechanics need for a physical size increase, as this would be counter product, only serving to impede player performance.
Rugby scouts will not look at a player if he does not meet the size standards set by the Unions. It does not matter if you have talent, size is all that counts. Gone are the days of the game for all shapes and sizes.