Friday 18 October 2019

Six Nations weights comparison: Ireland second on the scales but who has the most bulk?

Ireland are the second heaviest team in the Six Nations
Ireland are the second heaviest team in the Six Nations

Phil Blanche

Rugby players are getting bigger and bigger but will size really matter when it comes to the 2015 RBS 6 Nations?

Here, we look at this weekend's teams courtesy of the official Six Nations statistics and discovers the winners and losers in the weight stakes on the eve of the tournament's big kick-off.

1, WALES - 1,568kg (backs 678kg; pack 890kg).

Wales weigh in as the biggest team at a whopping 104.53kg per man on average - and it's mostly down to their huge back division. Wings George North (106kg) and Alex Cuthbert (104kg) supply power as well as pace and in Jamie Roberts (107kg) and Jonathan Davies (103kg) Warren Gatland's side has the heaviest midfield pairing in the Championship. The front-five (584kg) also provides real bulk and cannot be matched by anyone in Europe.

George NorthNorth has been in excellent form for Northampton recently but poor for Wales. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

2, IRELAND - 1,533kg (backs 637kg; pack 896kg).

Ireland edge England for second place by just 1kg and have the second heaviest pack (896kg) with only Stuart Lancaster's eight (916kg) weighing more. The front-row of Jack McGrath, Rory Best and Mike Ross (350kg) is the biggest in the tournament and the front-five is only 3kg down on the Welsh unit. There is also plenty of back-row ballast (315kg) in Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jordi Murphy but Wales and France have bigger back divisions.

Ireland's Mike Ross in action during squad training

3, ENGLAND - 1,532kg (backs 616kg; pack 916kg).

England might be giving away away 26kg to Wales in Cardiff on Friday night but not in the pack where they are heavier than the hosts by exactly the same amount. That is down to a jumbo-sized back row of James Haskell (111kg), Chris Robshaw (112kg) and Billy Vunipola - at 126kg the heaviest player on parade this weekend - who weigh in 43kg heavier than their Welsh counterparts. But their back division (616kg) is the lightest in the Championship.

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Billy Vunipola of England

4=, FRANCE - 1,513kg (backs 657kg; 856kg).

France are not really packing a punch in the weight stakes despite having the heaviest back in the tournament - colossal centre Mathieu Bastareaud, who tips the scales at 110kg. Only Wales have a bigger back unit but Les Bleus' pack beat just Italy for weight in the first round of fixtures. The front row of Alexandre Menini, Guilhem Guirado and Rabah Slimani (324kg) is bottom of the Six Nations list in that particular department.

la rochelle.jpg
Toulon's centre Mathieu Bastareaud scores a try during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Toulon and La Rochelle. Photo credit: FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images

4=, SCOTLAND - 1,513kg (backs 622kg; pack 891kg).

Scotland will weigh in exactly the same as France in Paris on Saturday but the make-up of the two sides is very different indeed. Scotland are 35kg down in the backs mostly due to the Bastareaud factor, but only England have lighter half-backs than Finn Russell (80kg) and Greig Laidlaw (82kg). But there is plenty of meat up front with Euan Murray and the Gray brothers - Richie and Jonny - helping to make it the third biggest pack behind England and Ireland.

Scotland's Richie Gray has been recalled to the starting line-up for Saturday's Six Nations game against Italy

6, ITALY - 1,474kg (backs 633kg; pack 841kg).

Italy's reputation as perennial strugglers - 10 wooden spoons in 15 years since joining the tournament in 2000 - is reflected by their position in this table. Despite the presence of gnarled prop Martin Castrogiovanni (122kg), the third heaviest player behind Vunipola and Ireland prop Mike Ross, Italy weigh in as the only side below 100kg per man at an average at 98.26. The Azzurri pack at 841kg is the lightest in the tournament - 75kg less than the biggest England.

Once again, Italy will look to Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse for inspiration in Rome

Average weight per man: Wales - 104.53kg. Ireland 102.20kg. England - 102.13kg. France - 100.86kg. Scotland 100.86kg. Italy - 98.26.

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