Analysis of the 2019 RWC players

WITH the 2019 tournament well underway and throwing up some surprise results and upsets, please see below a press release on new research on the size/weight of Rugby players at this year’s World Cup, compared to previous World Cups.

The key findings – which are from Zegami, a data visualisation company –  include:

The five heaviest players in 2019 are marginally lighter than the 5 heaviest players of 2015

But when compared with 1987, they are 2 full stone heavier

Even without Devin Toner the 6ft 11in Irish forward, the average height of the tallest five players is marginally higher

The heaviest winger to ever take the pitch, Fijian Nemani Nadolo, is 5 stone heavier than the heaviest winger from 1987.



The average weight amongst the heaviest players in 2019 is lighter than the 2015 tournament

Despite the absence of Devin Toner, the average height of the tallest players is marginally higher

There is also an impressive age spread with the oldest player being 19 years older than the youngest

This year’s five heaviest players are two stone heavier than the heaviest five from the 1987 tournament

The heaviest winger (Joe Cokanasiga) this year is 3 and a half stone heavier than the heaviest winger from the 1987 tournament

Oxford, UK

Zegami, data visualisation company helping businesses unlock their data potential , has reviewed player data from every Rugby World Cup since 1987 to this year’s tournament to uncover the heaviest, tallest, youngest and highest scoring players to watch.

The analysis reveals the five heaviest players in the 2019 RWC are, on average, five lbs lighter than the heaviest players from the previous tournament.

The average weight of these players is featherweight in comparison with the tournament’s heaviest ever player, Romanian hooker Ionel Negreci who tipped the scales at 396lbs in the 1995 World Cup.

The weight increase of players since the professional era is well documented and the average weight of the top 5 heaviest players from the 1987 world cup is just 276lbs. A full two stone less than this year’s heaviest players.

Whilst the top 5 heaviest players in 2019 are all forwards there are also some impressive weight stats in the backs where weights are markedly different from previous eras.  Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo is the tournament’s heaviest ever back at 286lbs when he took the field in 2015.  By contrast the heaviest winger in the 1987 tournament was Wales’s Adrian Hadley who at 218lbs was nearly 5 stone lighter than Nadolo.  Handley was also 3 and a half stone lighter than the England winger Joe Cokanisiga who is competing for the trophy this year.

Alongside these results, Zegami found that the height average of the tallest players this year is closely comparable to 2015.  Despite the absence of the 6ft 11 inch Irish giant Devin Toner, the difference in average heights of the tallest players is only 0.6inches.

The youngest player contending with these heavyweight giants in 2019 is Georgia’s hooker Vano Karkadze who celebrated his 19th birthday in June. He weighs in at a comparatively light 235lbs for a front row forward and doesn’t break the 6ft barrier at only 5ft 8in.

The Ireland vs Japan pool match on September 28th saw two of the tournament’s oldest players facing each other in a tournament upset with Japan beating Ireland 19-12. Luke Thompson at 38 years old for Japan put in a heroic shift, making 19 tackles as he faced Irish skipper Rory Best who turned 37 in August and will retire after the tournament.

Key playmakers will have two challenging targets in mind in Japan. The record number of points scored at a single tournament is a long held 126.  Scored by Grant Fox at the 1987 World Cup.  Three players hold the highest number of tries scored at a single tournament, which stands at eight, scored by Jonah Lomu, Julian Savea and Bryan Habana.

Sam Conway, Co-founder and CEO said: “The Rugby World Cup has presented us with some highly entertaining and, in some cases, eyebrow raising data.  The size difference in the modern professional era is remarkable, particularly in the backs where a 17 stone centre is now far from unusual.”

“It’ll make for an incredible spectacle and our software was the perfect tool to shine a light on just how much of a physical specimen you need to be to make it in the world of top flight rugby.”