So, if you’re anything like me, watching the Rugby World Cup makes you feel like a little hobbit compared to some of the man-mountains that are on display.
However, the Japanese, are the smallest team, and their victory over the Springboks shows what technique, tactics and heart can do against larger and stronger opponents.
Enough of that technique rubbish though, here are some giant stats:
France’s Uini Atonio has the prestigious honour of being the heaviest player at the world cup, weighing in at 22 stone and 11lbs.
Interestingly, the heaviest player of all time, is reported to be Fijian Bill Cavubati, who weighed nearly 26 stones in his playing days.
The fastest player at the Rugby World Cup (on paper), is Lwazi Mvovo, also of South Africa with a recorded 100m time of 10.32 seconds. Although most of us realise that this doesn’t necessarily translate to speed on the field, which is normally dependent on acceleration over the first 10m. But still, if you can run 100m in 10.32 you’re definitely going to be one of the fastest people on a given rugby pitch!
Fastest player of all time? That’s Carlin Isles
The tallest player at the rugby world cup is is Ireland’s second row Devin Toner at 6ft 10 inches. Although there are quite a few player around the 6ft 8 and 6ft 9 mark as well. The Japanese have an average player height of 5ft 11; whilst a total of 6 other teams, inlcuding Wales and Ireland, have a average player height of 6ft 2. Being a giant (a tall one anyway) is obviously a big advantage at line-outs, and the extra weight which comes with those inches is a big help in scrums too, but it does make tackling more difficult, as giant forwards will often have to drop-their-level before tackling, to avoid taking an opponent’s head off with a clothes-line and incurring a penalty.
There’s not too much you can do to get any taller, but focusing on compound movements in the gym like squats and deadlifts, and eating stupid amounts of clean foods and high quality protein, can certainly help you to get strong and add bodyweight. For speed and power, Olympic Lifts and Plyometrics are key, however, I would recommend expert tuition with those explosive exercises, as injury is a real risk with out proper technique and preperation.
Exrx.net is a great place to read up and learn about Olympic Lifting techniques and plyometrics.
A rugby player’s diet should consist of low/medium GI carbohydates like sweet potatoes, lots of healthy fats like fish oils, coconut oils, flax seeds; lots of nuts, and high quality sources of protein. Consider supplementing with BCAAs to avoid any catabolic effects of cardio/conditioning work as well.
Maintaining muscle mass, whilst working on speed and fitness is one of the most difficult things for a rugby player to do in terms of progressing in the gym. With this in mind, nutrition before, during and after rugby training and matches is crucial. Have a look into the benefits of BCAAs, HMB and alpha lipoic acid taken with creatine. Consuming a carbohydrate with BCAAs during training is worth considering – and post-training/match nutrition should consist of creatine (optional but has proven benefits), carbs and protein.
Try and make all foods nutritionally-dense where possible, lots of kale, spinach, and other organic vegetables will provide a sound foundation of micronutrients, which will, in theory, make it easier to add muscle mass; as your body will be under less stress and the immune system will be functioning at optimally. Probiotic foods and drinks are also worth some research too as they can help reduce physical (and actually mental) stress which will optimise recovery; and again in theory, help the body to add muscle when the right stimuli is present.