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brennan's brief Surely it's time for World Rugby to put weight limits on certain positions to prevent injuries


It’s one thing for a team that has been beaten in a Six Nations match to make changes. It’s another thing altogether for the winners to take a machete to their selection.

England have made five changes from the team beaten by Scotland for their game against Italy, while we wait to see what Andy Farrell will do to his Irish side later today. A minimum of one change is coming, with Peter O’Mahony suspended, but there may well be more.

But Scotland and Wales, coming off great triumphs last weekend, have made three and five alterations respectively because of injuries.

Yes, Wales are down five players after their bruising encounter with Ireland. And it is muscle and tissue injuries that see players like Jonny Williams and Hallam Amos miss out, nothing to do with concussions here.

It is an issue international rugby is going to have to face soon, the sheer size of the bodies hurtling into collisions with each other in the sport, with none of the helmets, shoulder pads and knee protection that we saw on Tom Brady and the rest of them in the Super Bowl last Sunday night.

When I was growing up, rugby had a position for every young lad. You were burly, well then you we a prop. You were tall, second row for you lad. You were a natural athlete who might have succeeded at the soccer or Gaelic too, out-half, full-back or centre was your place, and if you were nippy and agile, well of course the wing would be your home.

Now? No international rugby player is less than 16st of muscle, honed to a huge level of personal fitness by a professional training regime. Do you remember that picture of the South African squad before they won the World Cup in the Autumn of 2019? The muscles on show would not have been out of place in a Mr Universe contest.

Some people are taking action. In New Zealand, and doesn’t it show in the handling skills of their senior team, boys rugby is organised around weight. If you are a normal-sized 15-year-old you play with your peers.

But if you are a little smaller and lighter than the normal heft of a 15-year-old, you go down to the 14s – a bit bigger and you go up to the 16s or even 17s. So New Zealand rugby is about winning kids' games with skill, not being a battering ram.

Here in Ireland, you don’t have to delve too far into the world of Schools Rugby to hear about Creatine use to try and put muscle on boys.

Surely the time has come for World Rugby to plan long-term for a day when weight limits on positions come into effect – say the 2027 or 2031 World Cup. You cannot be a winger if you are over Xkg, a second row if you are over Ykg and a prop must be under Zkg.

Rugby is getting too big for its boots, and eight injuries on last week’s two winning Six Nations teams that we know, proves it.

Online Editors