When it comes to forward packs, the Top14 increasingly don’t do small.
Toulouse and latterly LaRochelle have taken the concept of bigger is better to an extreme, and Racing 92 have in recent seasons followed suit. With the league largely centred around the mauling game, there is some logic to the approach.
The evolution of professional rugby has of course seen an increase player sizes across the board, with an average international pack generally weighing in at over 900kg or 112.5kg a man. During this year’s Natwest Six Nations England, for example, regularly weighed in at 918kg or over and – in fact – Tier 1 international packs under 900kg are becoming more scarce.
The Top14 however is a different kettle of fish.
A theoretical pack constituted from Racing’s heavyweight stable of forwards would make your average International pack look more akin to a schoolboy team. With this in mind with a combined pack weight of 1004kg, the average man in our “Frankenstein’ Racing pack would tip the scales at 125.5kg (19 stone 11Ibs/276Ibs).
This weekend the Parisians take on the toast of the PRO14 and tournament favourites Leinster, a team that dominated the Scarlets around the breakdown with ruthless, bullying pick and goes. The Leinster pack that played that day weighed 897kg.
Of course this is a paper exercise, and this selection will not be picked by headcoach Laurent Labit, but all the same, an impressive prospect none-the-less.
Continue reading below…
1 Census Johnston
6′ 2.5″, 135kg
While he more often lines out at tighthead, the Samoan veteran is equally adept at loosehead where he has played for both Samoa and Toulouse. The 37-year-old previously weighed in at 140kg but has spent the latter part of his career in the mid 130s.
2 Wayne Ole Avei
5′ 10″, 115kg
3 Ben Tameifuna
‘Big Ben’ Tameifuna is listed at 134kg, but going on his current physique that might be a little shy of his real weight. In off season the Tongan has been as high as 149kg, and indeed weighed in at 148kg for the ‘Fight for Life’ charity boxing event in which he fought Willie Mason.
4 Patrico Albacete 122kg
The 37-year-old may be in the Autumn of his career and playing less rugby but the Argentinian still boasts a solid 122kg of mass on his 6’7 frame.
5 Edwin Maka
One of the heaviest professional rugby players on the planet, like Johnson, Maka made his way to Racing from Toulouse, who fielded some massive packs under Guy Noves. Very hard to stop near the line.
6 Bernard Le Roux
The South African born French international is a relative lightweight in this pack at a modest 17 stone 9 pounds.
7 Boris Palu
With an impressive 93% tackle completion rate in 2018, Palu tips the scales at 112kg.
8 So’otala Fa’aso’o