Weight restrictions could improve senior rugby

During their 44-8 demolition of France in the 2019 Six Nations, England kicked out of hand no fewer than

49

times!

It wasn’t just some random out of options aimless thing either. It was a tactically calculated display. Part of the reason behind this strategy is that top tier rugby attacks are increasingly having to face well-organised defensive lines of oversized players. There’s precious little space immediately in front of ball-carrier from any given phase nowadays but acres of it behind the often impenetrable wall.

Every year pro rugby players get a little bigger without sacrificing pace or power during the 50-80 minutes they spend on the park. It’s always been a rough contact sport but it has also maintained a good balance between specialisation and general ability. In so doing it has catered for players of all shapes and sizes.

Has pro rugby reached or is it fast approaching the point where the players are just too big and the diversity / character of the sport is in danger being reduced to something very monotonous (like Rugby League)?

A way to overcome this might be the introduction of weight classes similar to what’s found in tug of war teams.

What would it mean to the sport if the pack of eight forwards had to weigh in at under 850 kgs as a combined total while the seven backs were only allowed a joined weight of 600 kg altogether?

Those sort of restrictions would still allow for some pretty big players to continue to ply their trade. However it could have far reaching effects for the old school ball-in-hand attractiveness of the game. Otherwise kicking out of hand is destined to become the future of rugby attacking play – Aussie Rules step aside!

If you thought 850kg was big what about France’s massive test pack against Wales in 2019 which inched international rugby forward packs closer to eventually tipping the scales at ONE TON.

FRANCE TEST FORWARD’S NAME H W
1 Jefferson Poirot 183cm 123kg
2 Guilhem Guirado 180cm 109kg
3 Uini Atonio 198cm 155kg
4 Sebastien Vahaamahina 203cm 126kg
5 Paul Willemse 201cm 135kg
6 Wenceslas Lauret 188cm 103kg
7 Arthur Itturia 198cm 111kg
8 Louis Picamoles 193cm 116kg
AVERAGE HEIGHT / TOTAL WEIGHT 193cm 978kg

Injuries are part and parcel of rugby. Every player understands the potential consequences of putting their bodies on the line. The collisions of bigger and bigger sized players can only point to one trend: more injuries, longer layoffs and probably shorter careers.

Here’s a link the a great article that inspired this blog. https://www.rugbypass.com/news/one-of-the-games-greatest-minds-believes-rugby-needs-radical-change?fbclid=IwAR0wF2VLbly_A7X2Aqi-Y42yqYuRt3o1U1uwkEQYbaMMsmAv4Q2Db3JkraE

12 Comments

  1. This would NOT be the way, by limiting weight and or strengths.
    If you cant stand the heat, get out the kitchen.
    There is other sports for the faint hearted!

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  2. Would this help school rugby in the losing battle against steroid use or just result in steroids being used in a different manner?

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  3. Ek dink spelers soos faf, colby, kwagga, aplon, shane williams, mat gitau,en si aan is n bewys dat daar beslis nog plek vir kleiner spelers is, die probleem is op senter waar ons met stormramme sit wat nie weet hoe om spasie te skep nie

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  4. I was following the recent news about the Duke College basketball player Zion Williamson who had an unfortunate knee injury when his Nike shoes gave way during a big derby game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWtObstsKdE

    Basically he’s an 18 y o star who is 2.01m and weighs 130kg. So he is an imposing giant and surprisingly in spite of his size, he’s defined an an athlete. He’s not quite the size of the NBA legend Shaq o’Neal who was 2.16m + 145kg but he’s in that league as he is set to become the 1st drafted player for the NBA when he decides to turn pro.

    His stats brought to mind Monnas’ 2010 lock Paul Willemse who recently debuted for France and is in the 978kg pack table I made in the blog above. Willemse was always a big lad and his stats are exactly the same now as they were when he was 18. So these freaks of nature do occur.

    But what concerned me about Zion Williamson is that in the last 2 years he’s put on 45kgs. So he was 85kg at aged 16. This seems to suggest volumes about unnatural weight gain.

    That’s perhaps the real issue in rugby. It’s one thing to be big. And definitely rugby is not a game for the faint-hearted as correctly mentioned by @Skopgraaf243: But the benefits of and encouragement to get bigger presents an increasing risk to the players and perhaps to the appeal of the sport in the long run.

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  5. @beet: it is eveident that the bigger the players get, equal bigger hits resulting serious injuries.
    Perhaps NFL has method by padding up, however the game rugby has an illusion that was created a monster of bigger team equal better results.
    Thats why we dont have creative backs as commonly around as the past.
    Compare the weights of yesteryears springboks to now.
    I saw Johan Heunis was a 85kg player and in todays ranks would class him as a small back, Naas was in 70’skg.
    The bigger picture is a fresh breath of air going back to flair by likes of Phillíp Sella, Frank Monnell, Frank Bunce, Walter Little to name a few.
    This whole weight driven issue need to be smuthered at school level.
    Rugby has always been for ALL shapes and sizes. Its in best interest of the game!

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  6. @beet: what a great display by Brumbies giving the ball air against a very physical Chiefs side. Smart play from Brumbies against the big Chiefs.

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  7. @Skopgraaf243: I missed the match but good to hear. Just hearing that an Aussie team beat a NZ team is major news. In 2017 and 2018 the Aussies played the NZ Super Rugby teams 47 times and only won 3 matches.

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  8. The Aussie teams actually lost 40 games in a row to NZ opponents since 2016. 722 day trans-Tasman losing streak.

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  9. The day rugby got rid of rucking the game changed. Find a way to force forwards to commit to the rucks and everything will change. Rugby should rather consider getting rid of the flanks or wings. Get these big fat boys to cover more ground and get into one on one situations with smaller more mobile players and they will have to change.

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