We often read about the importance of physical bulk in rugby.
There is some prior academic research on this, by a group of French medical researchers, including the FFR. The abstract of their paper is available here RWC height, mass….
We wondered about this too. The specific questions we asked were as follows, did either:
i. average second row height, or
ii. average scrum weight
have any empirical influence on a team’s prospects of advancing through the various stages of previous RWCs, again going back to 1987 so that all RWCs were included.
What did we find ? First off, lets re-cap that what we look at is not whether say Ireland 2011 had a taller second row than Ireland 1991. What we are interested in is between group difference, i.e. team A in 1999 vs team B in 1999, over each of the seven RWC editions held to date.
Our findings were as follows:-
i. having a taller average second row was on average a positive indicator of success in advancing from the quarter-final to the semi-final stage only;
ii. having a heavier average scrum weight was a positive indicator of success of progressing from the semi-final to the final, AND of winning the final itself.
Observation: having a taller second row or a heavier pack was a good indicator of success, if at different stages of the tournament.