When looking at some of the world’s finest wingers over the past decade or so, each player seems to be unique from their rivals. From a colossus in the form of Julian Savea to the diminutive Shane Williams, there has been such an assortment of players to wear the No11 and No14 shirts, each impressing their own individual stamp on the game. 

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When it comes to the wingers across the European leagues, it may be hard to determine whether there are any trends within each of the top tournaments, France’s Top 14, England’s Gallagher Premiership and the Guinness PRO14. 

It’s a position where there is a large degree of creative licence for players and teams apropos of size of players compared to other positions on the field where there are particular physical demands. 

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As a result, a team like Montpellier can have the 1.94m (6ft 4ins)/130kgs (20st 7lbs) Nemani Nadolo on one wing, and the 1.73m (5ft 8ins)/74kgs (11st 9lbs) Gabriel Ngandebe on the other. These two may be on the extreme ends of the scale, but there is rarely such a vast chasm in the size of two players in the same position. 

The best round of fixtures to compare each league was probably the first weekend in January, which was sufficiently spaced between the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations. As it turns out, the season-stopping Covid-19 outbreak has meant some players used in this comparison have already left their clubs ahead of the new Top 14 season, or the resumption of the Premiership and PRO14.

However, the majority are still with the same clubs and their statistics have been taken from their club’s website. Across the three leagues, the average height of wingers is very close to being identical. In both the Top 14 and the PRO14, the average height of left wingers on this weekend was 1.83m (6ft) and 1.84m (6ft) for right wingers, making an average of 1.84m (6ft). The Premiership differed marginally, with both wingers averaging 1.84m (6ft). 

This by no means signifies that all the players are a uniform height, though, as seen with some positions elsewhere. In the Top 14, 14 per cent of players were above 1.9m and eleven per cent were below 1.8m, while 21 per cent were above 1.9m and 18 per cent below 1.8m in the PRO14. The Premiership was slightly more settled, with 80 per cent of players standing between 1.8m and 1.89m. 

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While height is beneficial in the back three to provide greater aerial strength, it is certainly not a necessity. Toulouse and South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe was the shortest winger in Europe on this January weekend at 1.71m (5ft 7ins), but he is arguably the most potent outside back in the game currently. 

The scattergun results in terms of the height of wingers on this particular weekend was also matched by the weights. Once again, the Top 14 and PRO14 were fairly well matched with an average in France of 90.5kgs (14st 4lbs) [left wing 90kgs (14st 2lbs), right wing 91kgs (14st 5lbs)], and an average in the PRO14 of 91.5kgs (14st 8lbs) [left wing 90kgs (14st 2lbs), right wing 93kgs (14st 9lbs)]. 

Meanwhile, the average weight of wingers in the Premiership was quite a bit more than the other two leagues at 95.5kgs (15st1lb). Left wings in England averaged 95kgs (14st 13lbs) while right wings averaged 96kgs (15st 2lbs). 

It may surprise some that the Top 14, which boasts players like Nadolo (by far the heaviest winger in Europe on this gameweek) and Josua Tuisova, would actually be the lightest on average, but for every one winger over 100kgs in France, there were two under 80kgs, which once again exemplifies this wild range of sizes. 

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Likewise, at 109kgs (17st 2lbs), Ospreys and Wales’ George North was heavier than any player in England during this round of fixtures. However, a quarter of wingers in England were over 100kgs, more than the other two leagues. 

What’s more, not only were there no wingers below 80kgs in England, but there were only two (eight per cent) between 80kgs and 89kgs, noticeably less than the other two leagues. 

This is not out of keeping with the Premiership, which also fielded heavier centres in this round of fixtures. It is a league that favours heavier backs, and it is perhaps befitting that Nadolo is Leicester Tigers-bound next month. 

While all leagues would have been without players on this weekend, some of the behemoths of the Premiership – such as Bath’s Joe Cokanasiga and Northampton Saints’ Taqele Naiyaravoro (who is taller and heavier than Nadolo) – were missing despite being regulars for their teams when fit. This would only have pushed the averages higher. 

Yet, while it does appear that the Premiership favours heavier wingers judging by this specific gameweek, there was still quite a variety of heights and weights of players. When looking at the Top 14, two of the league’s best wingers in recent seasons have been Kolbe and Tuisova who are vastly different players but irrepressible in their own right. 

Those two players ultimately embody the idea that variety comes with the territory in the wider channels. So while each league looks to have its tropes, it is still a position that has a lot of freedom regarding the size of players. 

GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP WINGERS 

Left wing average: 1.84m (6ft)/95kgs (14st 13lbs)

Right wing average: 1.84m (6ft)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

Overall: 1.84m (6ft)/95.5kgs (15st1lb)

Bath 

Left Wing: Anthony Watson – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Right wing: Semesa Rokoduguni – 1.84m (6ft)/102kgs (16st 1lb) 

Bristol Bears 

LW: Alapati Leiua – 1.82m (6ft)/100kgs (15st 11lbs)

RW: Toby Fricker – 1.85m (6ft 1ins)/98kgs (15st 6lbs) 

Exeter Chiefs 

LW: Olly Woodburn – 1.88m (6ft 2ins)/98kgs (15st 6lbs)

RW: Jack Nowell – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/98kgs (15st 6lbs)

Gloucester

LW: Ollie Thorley – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/97kgs (15st 4lbs) 

RW: Tom Marshall – 1.83m (6ft)/91kgs (14st 5lbs) 

Harlequins

LW: Vereniki Goneva – 1.75m (5ft 9ins)/102kgs (16st 1lb)

RW: Gabriel Ibitoye – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/92kgs (14st 7lbs) 

Leicester Tigers

LW: Jonny May – 1.87m (6ft 2ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

RW: Jordan Olowofela – 1.88m (6ft 2ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

London Irish 

LW: Ollie Hassell-Collins – 1.93m (6ft 4ins)/99kgs (15st 8lbs)

RW: Belgium Tuatagaloa – 1.88m (6ft 2ins)/106kgs (16st 10lbs)

Northampton Saints 

LW: Tom Collins – 1.83m (6ft)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

RW: Ahsee Tuala – 1.89m (6ft 2ins)/107kgs (17st) 

Saracens

LW: Alex Lewington – 1.83m (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

RW: Rotimi Segun – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/92kgs (14st 7lbs) 

Sale Sharks

LW: Byron McGuigan – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/94kgs (14st 11lbs)

RW: Chris Ashton – 1.83m (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Wasps 

LW: Marcus Watson – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/88kgs (13st 12lbs) 

RW: Zach Kibirige – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/83kgs (13st 1lb) 

Worcester Warriors

LW: Tom Howe – 1.83m (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

RW: Ed Fidow – 1.88m (6ft 2ins)/100kgs (15st 11lbs)

GUINNESS PRO14 WINGERS

Left wing average: 1.83m (6ft)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

Right wing average: 1.84m (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Overall: 1.835m (6ft)/91.5kgs (14st 8lbs)

Cardiff Blues

LW: Josh Adams – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/94kgs (14st 11lbs)

RW: Owen Lane – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/100kgs (15st 11lbs)

Cheetahs

LW: Rabz Maxwane – 1.81m (5ft 11ins)/83kgs (13st 1lb)

RW: Craig Barry – 1.82m (6ft)/90kgs (14st 2lbs)

Connacht

LW: John Porch – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/82kgs (12st 13lbs)

RW: Niyi Adeolokun – 1.83m (6ft)/89kgs (14st)

Dragons

LW: Rio Dyer – 1.86m (6ft 1in)/84kgs (13st 3lbs)

RW: Jared Rosser – 1.83m (6ft)/97kgs (15st 4lbs) 

Edinburgh

LW: Duhan van der Merwe – 1.93m (6ft 4ins)/106kgs (16st 10lbs)

RW: Eroni Sau – 1.86m (6ft 1in)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Glasgow Warriors

LW: Niko Matawalu – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/85kgs (13st 5lbs)

RW: Kyle Steyn – 1.82m (6ft)/102kgs (16st 1lb)

Leinster

LW: Fergus McFadden – 1.83m (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

RW: Dave Kearney- 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs)

Munster 

LW: Keith Earls – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/87kgs (13st 10lbs)

RW: Andrew Conway – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

Scarlets

LW: Steff Evans – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/82kgs (12st 13lbs) 

RW: Ryan Conbeer – 1.78m (5ft 10ins)/91kgs (14st 5lbs)

Southern Kings

LW: Erich Cronje – 1.82m (6ft)/91kgs (14st 5lbs)

RW: Yaw Penxe – 1.82m (6ft)/90kgs (14st 2lbs)

Ospreys

LW: Luke Morgan – 1.75m (5ft 9ins)/81kgs (12st 11lbs) 

RW: George North – 1.93m (6ft 4ins)/109kgs (17st 2lbs)

Treviso

LW: Monty Ioane – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/95kgs (14st 13lbs)

RW: Leonardo Sarto  1.93m (6ft 4 ins)/91kgs (14st 5lbs)

Ulster

LW: Jacob Stockdale – 1.91m (6ft 3ins)/103kgs (16st 3lbs)

RW: Robert Baloucoune – 1.93m (6ft 4ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs)

Zebre

LW: Mattia Bellini – 1.93m (6ft 4ins)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

RW: Charlie Walker – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/85kgs (12st 4lbs)

TOP 14 WINGERS

Left wing average: 1.83m (6ft)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

Right wing average: 1.84m (6ft)/91kgs (14st 5lbs)

Overall: 1.835m (6ft)/90.5kgs (14st 4lbs) 

Agen

LW: Valentin Saurs – 1.81m (5ft 11ins)/82kgs (12st 13lbs)

RW: Jamie-Jerry Taulagi – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/90kgs (14st 2lbs) 

Bayonne

LW: Remy Baget – 1.82m (6ft)/85kgs (13st 5lbs)

RW: Julien Tisseron – 1.82m (6ft)/85kgs (13st 5lbs)

Bordeaux

LW: Blair Connor – 1.83m (6ft)/84kgs (13st 3lbs)

RW: Geoffrey Cros – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/83kgs (13st 1lb)

Brive

LW: Joris Jurand – 1.88m (6ft 2ins)/99kgs (15st 8lbs)

RW: Axel Muller – 1.83 (6ft)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Castres

LW: Filipo Nakosi – 1.83m (6ft)/98kgs (15st 6lbs)

RW: Martin Laveau – 1.82m (6ft)/83kgs (13st 1lb)

Clermont

LW: Alivereti Raka – 1.84m (6ft)/88kgs (13st 12lbs)

RW: Damian Penaud – 1.92m (6ft 4ins)/94kgs (14st 11lbs)

La Rochelle 

LW: Vincent Rattez – 1.81m (5ft 11ins)/77kgs (12st 2lbs)

RW: Jules Favre – 1.81m (5ft 11ins)/88kgs (13st 12lbs)

Lyon

LW: Noa Nakaitaci – 1.9m (6ft 3ins)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

RW: Josua Tuisova – 1.8m (5ft 11ins)/108kgs (17st)

Montpellier

LW: Nemani Nadolo – 1.94m (6ft 4ins)/130kgs (20st 7lbs)

RW: Gabriel Ngandebe – 1.73m (5ft 8ins)/74kgs (11st 9lbs)

Pau 

LW: Watisoni Votu – 1.87m (6ft 2ins)/95kgs (14st 13lbs)

RW: Vincent Pinto – 1.87m (6ft 2ins)/93kgs (14st 9lbs)

Racing 92

LW: Louis Dupichot – 1.83m (6ft)/86kgs (13st 8lbs)

Right wing: Teddy Thomas – 1.85m (6ft 1in)/98kgs (15st 6lbs)

Stade Francais

LW: Lester Etien – 1.81m (5ft 11ins)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

RW: Sefanaia Naivalu – 1.86m/94kgs (14st 11lbs)

Toulon

LW: Gervais Cordin – 1.72m (5ft 8ins)/73kgs (11st 7lbs)

RW: Masivesi Dakuwaqa – 1.89m (6ft 2ins)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

Toulouse

LW: Cheslin Kolbe – 1.71m (5ft 7ins)/74kgs (11st 9lbs)

RW: Yoann Huget – 1.9m (6ft 3ins)/96kgs (15st 2lbs) 

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