A New Zealand physicist has demonstrated that blockbusting All Blacks winger Julian Savea’s nickname “The Bus” is more than mere hyperbole.

University of Auckland physicist Geoff Willmott ran the stats on Savea, 25, after New Zealand thrashed France 62-13 to set up a World Cup semi-final against South Africa this weekend.


Willmott, who has been writing a series of blogposts on physics and the Rugby World Cup, calculated Savea was travelling at 7.5 metres per second when he ran in the third try of his hat-trick against Les Bleus. At 1.92 metres (six feet three inches) and 108kg, Savea had the kinetic energy of a 10-tonne bus travelling at three kilometres an hour, he found.

Willmott told Fairfax New Zealand that to stop Savea covering 10 metres would take a force of 300 Newtons for about three seconds, the equivalent of one-and-a-half horsepower. He said that meant an average male weighing 75kg and standing still when Savea hit, would be airborne for half a second before crashing to the ground five metres away. Not a prospect many people would like to face.

Savea has scored eight tries at this World Cup, equalling the record for most five-pointers at a single edition of the tournament, alongside Springbok Bryan Habana and All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu. Savea has now scored 38 tries in 39 Tests.