For the last 20 years, there has been a trend in the professional era of rugby to prioritise size and power over skill and talent.
It really kicked off during the 1995 Rugby World Cup when Jonah Lomu stampeded over defences seemingly at will. Given the game went professional later that year, clubs suddenly began rushing to build bigger and stronger players, often letting smaller naturally gifted talent slip away.
There have obviously been exceptions to this such as Shane Williams and Jason Robinson, however the sight of a 5’8” 12 stone winger running rings around bigger opponents is becoming increasingly rare. Fortunately though, that looks like it could be about to change.
According to England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, his side have now reached the peak of their physical size developments, and will instead be focussing on developing speed and agility in his players.
The new England approach has been spurred on by the total dominance of the All Blacks of late who have prioritised skill, and aerobic capacity over size in their side. This has seen them become by far the most dominant team in world rugby, and fortunately it looks like it could be catching on.
“We do not want our boys to get bigger – we have plateaud there,” said Rowntree from their training camp. You cannot keep running into brick walls and hope to succeed.”
Although a change in approach from one side hardly amounts to a total revolution of the game, if both England and the All Blacks perform well at the up coming World Cup, it could be a trend that catches on.
Would you like to see a move away from the ‘bigger is better’ approach to rugby?