Serious but Semi-Silly Questions from a Dim American

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by Dave Davies, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Academy Player

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    Hello, my friends!

    In all sports, they talk a lot about size, weight, strength, etc.

    In the NFL, we have guys up to 6’7” playing athletic positions. In the NBA, we’ve had players as tall as 7’7”. I think the tallest guy I’ve seen in rugby is like 6’6” or so (admittedly small sample size).

    So, my questions are:

    1. Is there a ‘maximum height’ for playing rugby?
    2. At some point, does too much height become a disadvantage?
    3. A fav of mine, Vince Wilfork, weighed more than 300 lb. but still had enough athleticism to make a huge impact in the NFL. Will there ever be a rugby player that big?
    And,
    4. Are there any American athletes, NBA or NFL, that could switch over to ruggers and immediately find success?

    Thanks for always answering my random queries,

    -Dave
     
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  3. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

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    There's no limit to height requirements in rugby no.

    Andries Bekker, former Springbok and lock for the Stormers are one of the tallest guys I've seen play, and he was 2.08 meters tall. That is 6'8" if I'm not mistaken.

    I think height can become a problem in any contact sport such as NFL and Rugby, as the saying goes "the bigger they are, the harder they fall". And Bekker is an example of that in that he had a lot of injuries in his career.
     
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  4. dullonien

    dullonien International

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    Welsh and Bath player Luke Charteris, who's coming to the end of his career now is over 6'10" tall.

    Watch Ireland v England tomorrow where Devin Toner is roughly 6'11".

    Whilst height is very useful in the lineout, it can be a disadvantage in other areas if they struggle to get low enough whilst carrying the ball or tackling. The breakdown can also be a struggle for very tall players. Some are athletic enough to be effective regardless, such as Charteris and Toner etc.

    In terms of weight, there are rugby players out there who weigh over 21st. French prop Uini Atonio who's starting tonight is listed at over 24st on Wikipedia (not convinced by that). However players who are carrying this much weight will struggle in the loose over the course of the game, especially in defence. Props are usually the heaviest players on the pitch, but the best props are usually 18-20st, not 20+.
     
  5. bushytop

    bushytop First XV

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    Although some size (weight) is clearly a positive in rugby... as seen when players of a smaller build 'break through' and are immediately encouraged to pile on some muscle mass (shane williams, Anthony Watson, Johnny may)... but there comes a point of diminishing returns. A player of 300 lbs can be more effective in the NFL as the play is far more structured, stop-start and the defensive or offensive teams only really play a half match each. In rugby where phase play can stretch into the 20's (even 30's) of unstructured play a player that size would struggle to keep getting off the deck. Also, a rugby player must play offense and defence so there's no real time to rest.

    Height-wise, it's obviously important in the second row and less so the back row but apart from that it's not imperative.
     
  6. Leinster Fan

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    Devin Toner (starting for Ireland this weekend) is 6'11 and I think that's probably more or less the upper limit for practical reasons.

    It definitely has disadvantages, obviously if you're taller than everyone else it gives you and advantage in the lineout, but tackling legally becomes much harder and it can be harder to get involved in play. Getting down to hit rucks etc can be a lot harder. Toner is very effective but he's been the kind of lock who makes line breaks etc. It's interesting what Heineken says about injuries because Toner has a more or less perfect injury record. Guess it comes down to the players physique.
     
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  7. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Academy Player

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    Excellent point, that's kinda what I'd been thinking... width is always good, but height presumably would become a liability at some point.
     
  8. Old Hooker

    Old Hooker First XV

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    Don't recall any taller than Richard Metcalfe who dwarfs Toner by an inch. He picked up 13 Scottish Caps.

    There are many factors apart from height, but my ideal locks would be in the 6' 7 - 6' 9" range. Many of the modernish greats are in that range - Botha, Eales, Johnson, Retallick, Whitelock, Eztebeth. Ryan's not in that club yet, but he's hugely rated and also 6' 8". AW Jones is 6' 6", and I view that pretty much as a minimum for a top class lock.
     
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  9. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

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    1. No.
    2. Short answer, it depends. It can be on a lot of situations. You would think a 7'0 monster would have a feast defending against a 5'6. Thing is, as the rules stand today, the chances of that situation ending up in a high tackle are not small. Again, i am not saying it is a disadvantage, i'm saying it can be.
    I haven't seen a similar thing in other sport, but i remember a footie statistical analysis back in uni about foot-to-eye coordination and its correlation to height. On average, it went down.
    3. No clue. We, like the rest of the world, use the metric system.
    4. Immediately maybe a very, very tiny fraction. I'm thinking out loud but a) I'd rule all basketball players out as they just don't know how to tackle. There is a lot of technique involved and acquiring it just doesn't happen overnight, b) can you think of NFL AFL players that, right now, have the endurance to play pro- rugby for 60 minutes? Football is a very specialized sport. In rugby you need to be, at least to som degree, a jack of all trades. Everyone knows how to defend, attack, what to do in a maul/ruck, pass. As far as i understand that is not the case in american football. Some might have the skillset, i dont know.

    Having said that I have no doubt at all, that given time if the US wants to, they'd be a top 3 nation. What they'd done in 7s is, imo, not conclusive evidence but pretty damm close. They just got the rejects of the rejects of the rejects of all the other sports to play rugby and they are giving the worlds best a run for their money with just that.
    Isles and Baker were complete unknowns, third tier sprinters/footballers at best. Now one of them is rugby 7s player of the year and the other one keeps breaking stats every tournament.
    And, they are both technically poor. Baker is just strong and super fast. Had he played since he was a kid he'd be a monster.

    The gap between the US and the top teams would be harder to bridge in 15s. It's more technical and you can just outsprint people like they do in 7s. But the talent is clearly there. It's just being channelled into other sports.

    One of the theories about why the all blacks are so dominant is precisely that. Unlike the rest of the countries, they put all their eggs in one basket. Although they have a smaller pool of talent, rugby invariably gets the very best. That is not the case in other countries. They are also, of course, very well trained, coached, managed, funded, their system is rock solid, etc... but so are other teams.
     
  10. Dave Davies

    Dave Davies Academy Player

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    Ha! No kidding... I recall in elementary school, they said, "OK everyone, let's learn metric because it actually makes sense and the entire rest of the world use it, and we will be adopting it soon!" And then, a couple years later, they said, "OK everyone, let's learn metric because it actually makes sense and the entire rest of the world use it, and we will be adopting it soon!" And then a few years later... *sigh*

    The first time I drove to Canada, I got pretty excited when the speed limit signs went from "55" to "100" - took me a while to figure that one out.

    Great stuff, thanks!
     
  11. scotty507

    scotty507 First XV

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    England is a prime example of height being an advantage and disadvantage. Courtney lawes is tall. Great tackler and a very good lock. Great in the lineouts. Yet put him in the back row as EJ did and he struggled to be as effective at the breakdown and was less mobile. Where as a real 6 say wilson can be lifted but not as good as lawes in the line out yet adds so much more to the team at 6 than lawes would

    More weight = more power but less mobility and endurance.
    More height = generally better line out options but less of a option at breakdown or in the loose.

    Faf de klerk vs nathan hughes. Prime example that more height and weight isnt always the answer
     
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