Reply to Times article – Rugby is in danger of becoming a sport for freaks

Alongside cycling, I am an avid rugby fan, but my brother is on a different level on insight into the game. I thought he would appreciate the blog post which is read by a number of sport followers.

This was his reply to the above Times article:

Ollie Longworth to be honest, i disagree with this – however i have only read the first section as im not subscribed to the times so please take that into consideration. critising professional athletes for being to strong/fast/big etc for rugby is just plan stupid – its like comparing bolt to being to quick or mark cavandish for having too powerful legs for cycling. i agree that rugby players are on average a lot bigger,faster etc than they were 20 year or even 10 years ago. however he fails to recognize small players such as leigh halfpenny and will genia; who are smaller than most players but are two of the best players in the world. as well rugby has grown in popularity – you are going to have an increase in player playing who are of different sizes etc. in addition, this reporter often writes about how amazing players such as israel folau – who is 24 and weighs 16 plus stone – or sonny bill Williams are, he is contradicting himself as these players could be said to be one of these “freaks”. another example of a “freak” – Richie McCaw is 17 stone and has had a career spanning 12 plus years, has won 123 caps for his country, has a win rate of 89% and is widely regarded as the finest player ever in world rugby. In fact the only two non-professional players to have over a 100 caps is philippe Stella and david campese.

Additionally, he fails to take into consideration that the IRB have acknowledged this and tweaked some rules to make the game more expansive and more dynamic requiring a higher skill set and less about bulk for a team to be successful. The best example of this is the new scrum rules that have been introduced this season – changing the power of the original hit means more skill is needed by props. Teams like Tonga and Samoa have huge players but they dont play well as a team due to their collective skill.

Finally, though the reporter is probably right that the increase in size of players may contribute to an increase in injury problems – he fails to address, in my opinion, the key factor and that is the increase in games being played. In the Guinness premiership alone there are 24 games from start to the final – that doesnt include cup games (where you have two cups), friendlies and their second teams. as well you need to add international games which i think average about 14 or so a year as well as every two years you have addition ones for the lions and world cup. Plus as well the physical nature of the game; training for 6 or so days a week which involves the gym, fitness, running, swimming and most importantly physical activities such as tackling and rucking. do you think a player is going to go easy on you because you got picked a head of him???

There are a variety of factors (i havnt even discussed players playing on injuried, lyin etc) that all contribute to an increase in injury problems – narrowing it down and saying that it is due to people being bigger is just being ignorant.