What does it take to be a world champion at a sport? Some might say that it's years of dedication and training, but according to a new scientific paper, sheer physical mass might have a lot to do with it — especially in the bruise-laden sport of Rugby.
For those of you who don't follow Rugby Football — be it Union or League — the team is divided into two groups: the forwards and the backs. There are further specifics, like props, hookers, and whatnot, but now's not the time nor place. A new piece of research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the sheer size of the team members has a lot to do with their victories, but so too their experience.
The researchers complied data on 20 years of Rugby World Cup players, some 2692 athletes, and looked at their height, weight, and previous experience in the tournament. What they found was a distinct physical advantage that translated to more victories. On average, more successful players weighed 2kg above the counterparts, especially amongst the forwards. For the backs, height made a key difference, with the more victorious players generally sitting around 2cm taller.
The emphasis on bigger, heavier players has meant that between each World Cup, larger players were selected for teams. From 1987 to 2007, the average player was heavier by more than 6.5kg, and, and the back by a centimeter in height.
It's not all physical, though. The researchers also found that teams where more previous players had participated in the tournament before tended to perform better, too.
Who would have thought? Enormous man mountains win Rugby games? Inconceivable!