drawings of muscles and exercise apparatus

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rugby's Age of the Low Skinfold Giants

In 1991 England's international rugby forwards and backs weighed, on average, 100 kg and 83 kg respectively. Their counterparts in 2003 weighed 109 kg and 90 kg. (England Rugby Injury and Training Audit 2002-04)

By comparison in this year's Test against the Wallabies the England squad's average weight had further risen to 113.4 kg for the forwards and 93.4 kg for the backs. Thus in just 18 years elite level forwards had increased their weight by some 13 kg and the backs by 10 kg. And a much greater proportion of the bulk of the modern player is lean body mass.

Present day players are not just bigger, but also stronger and fitter and, certainly with the forwards, much quicker than those of the pre-professional era. Thus there is massively greater force being generated in the game's collisions, even without taken account of the modern two-on-one techniques of tackling. Little wonder then that the coaches' preferred teams have been decimated by injury from both playing and training.

For this Test the Wallaby forwards were outweighed by about one kg per man and the backs by two kg. But there was a very significant weight discrepancy in the front row. England's engine room five averaged a massive 119 kg while their opponents were a relatively puny 114 kg.

One of the greatest differences between the squads was in the players' ages. Ten of the home team's squad of 22 were aged 29 or older. By contrast the Australians, who seem to be taking the view that anyone over 30 is ready for the Golden Oldies, had just three.

There is a ten-year age gap between the ages of the reserve outside backs. Ayoola Enrile is 29 while James O'Connor is just 19. But this is inconsequential compared to the massive difference in their body weights. Enrile weighs 110 kg, a full 30 kg heavier than O'Connor!

Small wonder then that The Australian in late October attributed to Robbie Deans the view that "there could come a time when the Matt Giteaus, James O'Connors and Will Genias of the game simply find themselves too small to survive at the top level.”

1 comment:

Nursedude said...

I am getting concerned that in the professional and international game, we are reaching the breaking point in terms of the players health. Jonah Lomu was a freak in 2005 and 2009. Today, players like Basteraud in France and others would be of comparable size to the Kiwi legend.I am wondering if in a few years, professional rugby union players will be as crippled and dibilitated as former American pro football players.