With his backline selection for Italy, Eddie Jones may have created one of heaviest back divisions in the history of English Test rugby.
There are five changes to the starting XV that played Wales a fortnight ago. Joe Cokanasiga starts on the right wing for his fourth cap while Ben Te’o comes in at inside centre with Manu Tuilagi moving to outside centre.
The combination of those three players tips the scales for England, who will bring in a significant weight advantage when the two sides line out this Saturday at Twickenham.
England have fielded outsized backs before of course. The 103kg Ben Cohen and 102kg Mike Tindall were a mainstay in Sir Clive Woodward’s 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side.
Following the Woodward era the 102kg Shontayne Hape, 112kg Lesley Vainikolo and 108kg Andy Farrell all won caps as England continued a largely failed experiment with Rugby League converts in it’s midfield and on its flanks.
The 6’7, 114kg Matt Banahan would win a total of 16 caps between 2009 and 2011, playing in the centre and on the wing, before 103kg Joel Tomkins – a converted League secondrow – went on the win 3 caps in 2013.
The arrival of the 6’5, 116kg frame of NRL star Sam Burgess at centre in 2015 saw the 6’4, 109kg Luther Burrell dropped.
Yet no combination can boast a heavier average weight than the one lining out this Saturday.
The back division as a whole weighs 702kg, and average of 100.2kg a man, or 15 stone 11Ibs.
11 to 15 weigh and average of 103.6kg, or 16 stone 4Ibs.
15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 28 caps) – 98kg
14 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 3 caps) – 112kg
13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps) – 110kg
12 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors 16 caps) -106g
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 43 caps) – 92kg
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 68 caps) (captain) – 92kg
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 83 caps) – 92kg
They are by no means the heaviest backline ever assembled however.
In 2017 Fiji named what is almost certainly the heaviest backline ever assembled in international rugby for a game with Ireland.
The outside backs – 11 through 15 – are so massive, that their average weight would see them compare with a mid-sized forward pack.
From 137kg Nadolo at 11, they include: 103kg Levani Botia, La Rochelle’s coverted backrow; 112kg Pau centre Jale Vatubua, slimmed down from 125kg; Montpellier’s 106kg Timoci Nagusa and the comparatively lightweight La Rochelle fullback, 97kg Kini Murimurivalu.
Their average weight was 111kg. That’s 17st 7Ibs in old money or 245Ibs in American.
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