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Sunday 17 December 2017

Does size really matter in the Six Nations?

The fixtures for the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations have been announced
The fixtures for the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations have been announced

Rugby players are getting bigger and bigger but will size really matter when it comes to the 2015 Six Nations? We look at the official Six Nations statistics and discovers the winners and losers in the weight stakes on the eve of the tournament's big kick-off.

1. WALES - 1,568kg (backs 678kg; pack 890kg)

Wales weigh in as the biggest team at a whopping 104.53kg per man on average - and it's mostly down to their huge back division. Wings George North (106kg) and Alex Cuthbert (104kg) supply power as well as pace and in Jamie Roberts (107kg) and Jonathan Davies (103kg) Warren Gatland's side has the heaviest midfield pairing in the Championship. The front-five (584kg) also provides real bulk.

2. IRELAND - 1,533kg (backs 637kg; pack 896kg)

Ireland edge England for second place by just 1kg and have the second heaviest pack (896kg) with only Stuart Lancaster's eight (916kg) weighing more. The front-row of Jack McGrath, Rory Best and Mike Ross (350kg) is the biggest in the tournament and the front-five is only 3kg down on the Welsh unit. There is also plenty of back-row ballast (315kg) in Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jordi Murphy but Wales and France have bigger back divisions.

3. ENGLAND - 1,532kg (backs 616kg; pack 916kg)

England might be giving away away 26kg to Wales in Cardiff on Friday night but not in the pack where they are heavier than the hosts by exactly the same amount. That is down to a jumbo-sized back row of James Haskell (111kg), Chris Robshaw (112kg) and Billy Vunipola - at 126kg the heaviest player on parade this weekend. But their back division (616kg) is the lightest in the Championship.

4.= FRANCE - 1,513kg (backs 657kg; 856kg)

France are not really packing a punch in the weight stakes despite having the heaviest back in the tournament - colossal centre Mathieu Bastareaud, at 110kg. Only Wales have a bigger back unit but Les Bleus' pack beat just Italy for weight. The front row of Alexandre Menini, Guilhem Guirado and Rabah Slimani (324kg) is bottom of the Six Nations list in that department.

4.= SCOTLAND - 1,513kg (backs 622kg; pack 891kg)

Scotland will weigh in exactly the same as France in Paris on Saturday but the make-up of the two sides is very different indeed. Scotland are 35kg down in the backs mostly due to the Bastareaud factor, but only England have lighter half-backs than Finn Russell (80kg) and Greig Laidlaw (82kg). But there is plenty of meat up front with Euan Murray and the Gray brothers - Richie and Jonny - helping to make it the third biggest pack behind England and Ireland.

6. ITALY - 1,474kg (backs 633kg; pack 841kg)

Italy's reputation as perennial strugglers is reflected by their position in this table. Despite the presence of prop Martin Castrogiovanni (122kg), the third heaviest player behind Vunipola and Ireland prop Mike Ross, Italy weigh in as the only side below 100kg per man at an average at 98.26. The Azzurri pack at 841kg is the lightest in the tournament - 75kg less than the biggest England.

Average weight per man: Wales - 104.53kg. Ireland 102.20kg. England - 102.13kg. France - 100.86kg. Scotland 100.86kg. Italy - 98.26.

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