How tall are rugby players?? Are they all Giants??
That would be one word for it. Another one would be “freak”, for instance… But yes, in general, they are pretty tall.
The numbers 4 and 5 (locks) are usually the tallest ones in the team. Guys like Richie Gray, Luke Charteris, Brodie Retallick, Bakkies Botha; those guys will be 6′10, 6′11, (way over 2m) easy. Here’s a picture of Richie Gray next to a fan:
Next, you have the number 8s. They’re also pretty tall, around 1,90 (6′3). Those are guys like Kieran Read, Sébastien Chabal and Jamie Heaslip. Here’s a picture of Chabal, mostly because I’ve just realized I probably don’t have any pictures of him on my blog and that is a DAMN SHAME.
The flankers, numbers 6 and 7, theoretically need more mobility than the lower numbers, so they should be leaner. Those are my coach’s words I’m repeating. He’s a very good coach, and I respect him a lot, but that doesn’t make him automatically right… I mean, think of Thierry Dusautoir, Richie McCaw, Sam Warburton, Chris Robshaw; do those guys strike you as “leaner” than the rest of the team? Anyway, they’re pretty tall, too, usually around 1,88 (6′2) (Funnily enough, I just checked the heights of those four guys I just mentioned and they’re all exactly 1,88m tall. Weird, huh?) Here’s the obligatory Richie pic, because I love him (also, you can see that he’s taller than Nigel Owens – at least I think it’s Nigel):
Followed by a pic of Warby, because I love him too (and I especially love cuddle pictures) (look at his faceeeeeeeee ^-^):
Then there’s the front row: the props (numbers 1 and 3) and the hooker (number 2).
People say that the hookers should be shorter (something to do with it being easier for them to hook the ball if they don’t have to bend their knees too much) but, in practice, they tend to be the same size as the props. They are not as tall as the rest of the team, I’d say around 1,83m (6 feet), but they are still kinda tall and wide. Here’s Cian Healy, my favorite prop, to give you an idea of their body type:
Also, here’s Cian Healy with his pug, Ted, which is the reason why he’s my favorite prop (he’ll take selfies with this little creature looking like a dust mite next to him, and tag them with #puglife, and go to pottery classes and make decorated bowls for him, and all his Ted tweets are so adorable I wanna claw my eyes out):
And here’s Tom Youngs, a hooker, who’s actually atypically short (1,75m – 5′8) but, as you can see, could never be called “little”:
But they can also be leaner, like Dimitri Szarzewski, who’s 1,80m (5′10) tall (I’m only including this picture so you’ll know of the variety in rugby players. I swear this is my only interest here.):
That’s it for the forwards. As far as the backs go, heights can vary a lot, but they’re usually not much shorter, and can be quite tall, too, like George North (1,94m – 6′4), Sonny Bill Williams (1,94m – 6′4 too), Israel Folau (1,93m), and Jonah Lomu (1,96m – 6′5):
In theory, scrum-halves should be a bit smaller and scrawnier, but that’s not necessarily true, especially in professional teams. Mike Phillips, for instance, is 1,91 (6′3), and far from scrawny (again, I’m just trying to prove my point, I don’t post gratuitous shirtless pictures, this isn’t for me at all):
But it is true that some smaller players can be found among the backs. And, of course, those are the ones we adore. Smaller backs can usually make up for their lack of size and mass with agility and mobility, and they have the added advantage of giving us in idea of what a regular-sized person would look like next to the other players. There are three players in particular that I hold very dear to my heart because of this: Cheslin Kolbe (who, being 1,71 or 5′7, is what I would call “regular-sized”), pictured below looking like he’s running towards Valhalla while being pursued by Ice Giants:
Fumiaki Tanaka, who is 1,66m (5′5) and would be considered short in spite of the fact that he’s actually just a little bit taller than me (I’m 1,63m) and, in this picture, you can see that he’s also just a little bit taller than the other guy’s leg:
And, of course, our dear, dear, Leigh Halfpenny, who generally looks like a very muscular cherub. Being 1,79m tall (5′10) he would, in a normal setting, even be considered tall, but everyone else on his team is so much taller than him he always looks like a child:
I mean, LOOK AT THAT^^^!!! If you drew two human figures, side by side, with ^that kind of size difference, people would tell you you have no sense of proportion. And if you look at their feet, you’ll see that Luke is actually a little ways behind Leigh; so, because of perspective, he should be looking smaller than he actually is. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!
AND HE FUCKING LOVES TO CUDDLE TOO! LOOK AT ALL THESE CWTCHES!!
FUCK HIM!!!! FUCK ALL OF THEM!!!! I CAN’T TAKE THIS!!! I need a moment…
*drinks a gallon of water to stave off a very INTENSETHIRST*
Alright. So, going back to what I was saying in the other post (which I imagine was what prompted your message in the first place), if you look at Kolbe and Fumi playing, you’ll see that they have a completely different style than Leigh. Leigh plays just like the other players, creative in his own way, but physically very conservative, doing all the standard moves, especially when it comes to tackling and being tackled. Both Kolbe and Fumy play in a very different way, physically.
When it’s a one-on-one defense, for instance, Leigh rarely goes for their ankles; he goes low, but more to their hips. Kolbe and Fumi, unless they’re trying to take the ball, tackle very low, almost at the ground, or very high, almost to the neck. What Leigh does is the standard procedure: wait until the very last moment, until the attacking player has committed to a course of action, and then go for their gravity center; that way, you avoid getting side-stepped or missing the tackle (and if you’re the last line of defense, if you fail it means the other team scored). Problem is, you’re going to take the full brunt of the impact right on your shoulder, and if the other player is much bigger than you, that can be brutal, and you might not be able to stop them. Tackling very low or very high, on the other hand, is risky but physically safer. For tackling low you have to be very fast because they can see what you’re doing a mile away and your chances of missing are very high, but the impact you suffer is almost minimal. Tackling high can give the other team a penalty (or even a penalty try) and you a yellow card if you go too high, and it’s largely ineffective. It’s more of a delaying tactic, you hang on to them and try to slow them down until your forwards can get there and give you a hand. But, again, the impact you suffer is very low.
When Leigh is tackled, he usually resists and tries to keep his feet or, at least, the field position. Kolbe and Fumi never resist being tackled. When you watch them play, it looks like they’re getting the beating of a lifetime: they’ll soar backwards, legs in the air, arms flailing, the other players can pick them up and throw them over their heads; but they immediately get back up, brush it off and keep playing without showing any signs of hurt. They give a little bit of ground (and, really, it’s just a few meters at most) so they can fully cushion their own falls.
Kolbe and Fumi are very fast, agile players, so they actually can pull off these moves without harming their team; I think Leigh could do it too, but, honestly, it has never occurred to him that, since he’s smaller, he should play differently. Now that I think about it, it’s quite likely that Jonny Wilkinson might have had a similar problem…
This goddamn essay having been written, I should probably warn you that I’m no rugby theorist, I just really like the sport, both watching and playing, and tend to pay attention to all sorts of stuff and draw conclusions from that. Of course, I could be wrong and just talking out of my ass here (although I play both in a women’s team and a mixed team, so both in competitions where I’m roughly the same size as everyone else and where I’m much smaller, and I’ve found that what I said generally applies). If anyone cares to add to what I’ve written, or correct me, please do so. I’m always eager to learn! :)
(Also, if you were expecting a short, straightforward and technical answer, I’m very sorry. I just needed to unwind a bit and I wanted to talk about/fangirl on/thirst over rugby a bit. And I apologize to everyone else for not putting it under a “Read more”, but I just spent some 15 minutes of my very scarce free time writing this and looking for the photos, so I want everyone to see it.)
“Father, I’m in a strange place. I don’t want to be the kind of person, who takes human life without feeling. And if this job has done that to me, and if I really am confessing, knowing that I’m supposed to seek absolution, but not really thinking I need it…”