As we sit glued to out television screens to watch the Rugby World Cup (RWC) games, have you ever wondered just how heavy some of those scary-looking fellows are? Or wondered how young and small other players appear in comparison? Well, I have – and so decided to do some investigation. Here goes:
The oldest player at this year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan is Kiwi-born, Luke Thompson, who plays at lock for Japan. At 38 years and 138 days, he is one month older than Springbok, Schalk Brits. At an age when most players were watching the World Cup from their sofas, Uruguayan, Diego Ormaechea became the oldest player in RWC history when he represented his country at the 1999 RWC at the age of 40 years and 130 days. Our own Victor Matfield occupies second place in the history books, at 38 years and 190 days when representing South Africa at the 2015 RWC.
The youngster at this year’s tournament is Georgian hooker, Vano Karkadze, at 19 years and 3 months. Springbok utility back, Damian Willemse, who has been called up to replace the injured Jesse Kriel, is the baby of the Springbok squad at 21 years and 4 months. The youngest in RWC history is another Georgian, Vasil Lobzhanidze, who made his debut at RWC 2015 at the age of 18 years and 340 days. The youngest to play in a World Cup final was a legendary All Black, the late Jonah Lomu, who appeared in the 1995 final at 20 years and 41 days.
The tallest player in Japan is Wallaby lock, Rory Arnold who stands 2.08m (6ft 10ins) and a hair taller than Springbok, RG Snyman at 2.07m (6ft 9½ ins). The tallest to play test rugby is Irish lock, Devon Toner at 2.1m (6ft 11ins) and Springbok, Andries Becker ties with Arnold as the tallest in Super Rugby.
The tournament “shorty” is Springbok scrum half, Herschel Jantjies at 1.58m (5ft 2ins) followed by another scrum half, Japan’s Furmiaki Tanaka at 1.65m (5ft 5ins).
The heavy “rollers” at this year’s tournament are the Pacific Islanders who dominate the scales at RWC 2019. Ben Tameifuna, the Tongan tighthead prop, tips the scales at a staggering 153 kg (340 lbs). Coming second is another player of Tongan heritage, Taniela Topou, who switched allegiance to Australia and is also a prop with the nickname, the “Tongan Thor”. He weighs 135 kg (300 lbs). To put these in perspective, the heaviest Springbok is Lood de Jager at 129 kg (280 lbs) followed by Frans Malherbe at 124 kg (273 lbs).
Let’s hope our bokke can bring it home and equal the All Black record of three Webb Ellis trophies.
In conclusion, a few titbits of trivia:
Which player has scored the most tries at RWC to date and how many? There are two who head the table, Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana (15 each). However, Lomu scored these in one tournament (1995). It took Habana three events to draw equal.Which player has scored the most points at RWC to date? Jonny Wilkinson with 277 points, including 58 penalties and 14 drop goals.