As I mentioned earlier in this series of articles I'm no doctor and my medical knowledge is minimal at best. But all it takes is a little bit of research to learn that the NHS considers it unhealthy for anyone to exceed 100kg. Some slightly more extensive research reveals that when the All Blacks hosted the Lions recently for the first of three tests, not a single forward weighed in with less than triple figures. The backs aren’t much under either, most being above 90kg with giants like Ben Te'o and Sonny Bill Williams reaching a whopping 106kg and 111kg respectively.

Consequences of collisions

So, clueless as I am about physiology and science, my own logic is all I'm working with here, but what this logic tells me is rather alarming. With Te'o and Williams facing off at inside centre, if one were to get a bit of space to run in before colliding with the other, could either man expect not to suffer long-term repercussions from the clash? Neither of these colossi is exactly slouches either, and that much weight moving at the speeds they can reach seems likely to be damaging. Never mind the consequences that could arise from a crunching tackle on Brodie Retallick's 120kg frame, or from having all 123kg of Tadhg Furlong land on top of you at the bottom of a ruck.

It begs the question: do Rugby players really need to be so heavy? The obvious answer is yes, but only because their opponents are. Furlong wouldn’t stand much of a chance scrummaging against 118kg Joe Moody if he weren’t such a bulky lad himself. But if a weight limit were set for all players, we could enjoy watching the same fast-paced collisions without the constant fear that every single one is damaging the brain of its participants.

Benefits of weight limits

It amounts to a statement of the obvious to say that only a rigorous gym regime and specific diet brings about such monstrous weights. It’s not as if rugby players are freaks of nature who are naturally heftier than normal humans, so to go to such lengths to fatten up surely can’t be healthy anyway.

Therefore, remaining under an appropriate weight limit wouldn’t actually be difficult, it would merely be a case of players weighing what they are genetically inclined to weigh.

Besides the health and safety benefits, a maximum level of heaviness would do the game no harm as a spectacle. Watch clips from the famous Lions tours of the 1970s and you won’t be bored by the gentleness of it all, even if Willie John McBride, JPR Williams et al lacked the hulking figures of their present day counterparts. Gareth Edwards remains widely regarded as arguably the greatest who ever graced the game, but a single tackle from Conor Murray would likely see the Welshman limping off the field. If players could spend less time on the weight machines bulking up they might be able to dedicate more of their training to skill sessions, thus aiding the sport as a spectacle.

Players of diverse builds

What’s more, such a development would even be in line with World Rugby’s Playing Charter. The governing body tells us that the variety of skills involved provides 'an opportunity for individuals of every shape (and) size'. Looking at any high-level match nowadays, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. If players of diverse builds are to continue playing, and if severe injuries are not to grow rampant, it’s time to act.