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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Top 5 Little Men of World Rugby

Rugby HQ's latest Top 5 took a look at some of the smaller men of the game, featuring legends of years gone by that could tear up the park with footwork and raw speed alone. You can probably guess who would be number one and two (interchangeable?), but the rest are outstanding too.

The list features two South African's, one Samoan, an Englishman and a Welshman. If there's anyone else you think that could easily have made the list, let us know in the comments below.

View more of these excellent compilations in our Top 5 section, and more of the legends featured in this video in our Related Posts below, which includes some of their great tries

Posted at 7:24 am | 41 comments

Gio Aplon's great try gets WP to Currie Cup Final

Rugby HQ's Top 5 Set Piece Tries of all time

Three great tries from Samoa vs Fiji in the 2012 PNC

Shane Williams scores in extra time in farewell home game

Farewell to Shane Williams - Final try and interviews

Gio Aplon's brilliant individual try against the Chiefs

Shane Williams great solo try against London Irish

David Lemi's controversial try against Toulouse

Jason Robinson classic try against Italy in 2004

Shane Williams' 6 tries - British & Irish Lions Tour 2005

Jason Robinson - A tribute to Billy Whizz

Jason Robinson's last ever try for Sale Sharks

Breyton Paulse try vs Scotland as referee gets tackled!

Excellent Gio Aplon Try against the Bulls in 2006

Posted in Great Tries, Top 5 compilations

Viewing 41 comments

Gagnab July 31, 2014 12:16 pm

Peter Stringer.

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10stonenumber10 July 31, 2014 12:23 pm

Yes!!!

Been waiting for this one for quite a while... Paulse, Lemi, Gio, Whizz and Shane-o.

However, for complete political correctness (hypocritical, I know...)

You call us the small men, the whippersnappers... we prefer the term CONCENTRATED AWESOME.

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stroudos August 01, 2014 7:54 am

@10stone,
Good to see the producers of Rugby HQ read the Rugbydump comments section. You called for this Top 5 (http://www.rugbydump.com/2014/06/3799/the-top-5-big-boppers-130kg-in-world-rugby) and they delivered.

My suggestion for a top 5 players under 6 foot on that thread was:
Steffon Armitage
Leigh Halfpenny
Gio Aplon
Jason Robinson
Shane Williams

Same top 3, which is no surprise. But I stand by including Magic Steffo - why should a shortarse forward not qualify?

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krip July 31, 2014 12:39 pm

Just a honorable mention to some of my top "small" players:

Mark Andreu
JB Ellissalde
Terry Bouhraoua (7s)

It`s interesting they are all French. After all my years in rugby I noticed that in France they don`t have the stupid prejudice "big bloke is good in rugby, small one - not/should not play".

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Eold July 31, 2014 12:47 pm

And what about Christophe Dominici?
I'm shocked not to see him in this Top 5! (Yeah I know i'm french...)

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DrG July 31, 2014 3:55 pm

I think top 5 is an awfully 'small' (haha) number as there are so many small great players, Dominici being one of them!

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Colombes July 31, 2014 12:50 pm

As much i like Lemi and Aplon profiles,
But guys like Gregan, Dominici, Stringer or Elissalde certainly were much better players!

Best little player prospect: Christian Wade

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Colombes July 31, 2014 12:51 pm

and i even forgot Serevi...

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10stonenumber10 July 31, 2014 1:04 pm

Serevi deserves a top 5 all of his own.

He used to wear 2 scrum caps for contact drills at Leicester... absolute HERO.

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katman July 31, 2014 6:12 pm

Stringer "much better" than Aplon? Apart from maybe Dominici, none of those guys can match Aplon for pace or stepping. Not even close, I'm afraid.

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JBAA rugby July 31, 2014 1:59 pm

Phil Mack, Canada 7's and 15's

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Bruno July 31, 2014 2:57 pm

Jean Pierre Rives was so awesome that people forgot he was only 7'10

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DrG July 31, 2014 3:57 pm

To be fair 7 foot 10 isn't particularly small...

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Bruno July 31, 2014 4:12 pm

Only because I got my imperials wrong: 5'10, obviously ;)

Not a pro flanker below 6' these days, let alone a world class one.

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DrG July 31, 2014 7:29 pm

I agree with the sentiment, but there is still the likes of Heinrich Brussow who is *just* under 5'11, but I believe he is very much an exception to the rule.

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UpTheLowEnd July 31, 2014 9:19 pm

Hooper only stands at 5'10.

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stroudos August 01, 2014 7:37 am

Steffon Armitage = 1.75m, 5'9.

Bruno, I also agree with the point you were making, but isn't it interesting how all these exceptions to the rule - Hooper, Brussow, Armitage are actually awesome. Definitely something for selectors keen on massive flankers to ponder.

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DrG August 01, 2014 12:59 pm

Different kettle of fish, but a team I used to play for had a short flanker, he was fast as hell and bloody strong too. He had to be under 5'10 - tackled like a demon and always hit hard, rarely did he go back when tackling.

Like I said, this is a bit different - amateur vs pro, but there is some key ingredient some of these gems have.

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sppkeyoung July 31, 2014 4:28 pm

Neil Back? Told he was too small to play interational rugby at flanker. I guess he proved them wrong, didn't he?

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binky July 31, 2014 4:41 pm

Dominic should have been in, the guy was brilliant!

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10stonenumber10 July 31, 2014 4:49 pm

Agreed on Dominici. French back play has always favoured the mobile rather than the meatier amongst us. It's called Champagne Rugby the world over for a reason! The french back 3s might have been lightweight, but ball in hand hunting the try line as a pack... (providing it is a game all 15 players 'turn up' to), there is a reason the All Blacks fear them.

Stringer, Gregan, Elissalde etc. were great players, but not as exciting as Lemi burning 5 on the outside, or Whizz carving defences like a Christmas Turkey.

Rives was a hell of a player, and artist too, but he could mix it with the big boys, us little ones don't tend to hold our ground so well!!

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Pedro Soares July 31, 2014 5:13 pm

I think Pedro Leal from Portugal should also be on the list.
He's a top 10 player in 7's, and important in XV squad.

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Eddie-g July 31, 2014 5:17 pm

It seems a good top-5, until you have to justify who you've left out.

I think first of all, scrumhalves shouldn't be eligible. Nothing personal or anything against these wee men, it's mainly that if you are eligible, the field is too crowded. Also it's the one position where lack of size is an advantage. So anyway, the guys who didn't make the cut... off the top of my head...

Dominici, Clerc, Brent Russell, Chester Williams, Cullen, Carlos Spencer, Zee Ngwenya...

And those guys who are small compared to the average player, but perhaps not so small compared to the average wee man over history - thinking Willie le Roux, Dan Carter, Digby Ioane, Francois Hougaard...

At the very least I think you have to make space for Cullen, that was a criminal omission.

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10stonenumber10 July 31, 2014 6:09 pm

Or more recently Cruden. He's heavy, but only 5'9''

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Eddie-g July 31, 2014 8:50 pm

Yep. Maybe Michalak too

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jon August 01, 2014 2:06 am

Ioane is pretty big mate. 95kgs, 5'10" isn't really small for a winger.
It's not huge, but it's not small.
Also, his arms are the size of most people's legs.

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stroudos August 01, 2014 7:41 am

@eddie-g - Christian Cullen? Awesome player but I never thought of him as a small player - isn't he about 6 feet tall?


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Eddie-g August 01, 2014 10:56 am

5'11 apparently. Or in other words, an inch taller than Paulse.

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stroudos August 01, 2014 3:45 pm

I don't remember him looking small compared with the people he played with/against. Have professional players really got that much more massive in the last 10-15 years?

Anyway, Cullen doesn't need a small men list, he'd be in my top 5 awesome rugby players of any size.

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DrG July 31, 2014 7:41 pm

It's be interesting to find out who the lightest player is/was in the pro era (I'm picking pro era because before that will make things very complicated).

Gio Aplon is probably quite high on the 'light list'.

Wonder if it'd be stringer at 73kg?

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10stonenumber10 July 31, 2014 9:22 pm

unless I am mistaken, i'm pretty sure it is Fumiaki Tanaka, Highlanders scrum half. 5'5'' and 60kg at debut, but now he is in NZ he has bulked to 72kg (according to wikipedia)

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Nuggy July 31, 2014 8:08 pm

Peter who?

You cant name scrum half's for this, most of them are small and if you had to select from them, then Fourie du Preez beats them all. Looking at other positions guy's like Dominic and Brent Russell should be in the list, Shane is truly one of the greats.

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Jay August 01, 2014 4:05 am

What about C Cullen? He only weighed 80 odd kg's and he is regarded by many to be the best All Black back of all time...

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J Kruz August 02, 2014 1:19 am

Waisale Serevi

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larry August 02, 2014 5:54 pm

Just about everyone mentioned in the top five is a recent or active player. Five is too small a sample size. Gerald Davies (5'8" 12 stone), Phil Bennett (5'8" 12 stone), and Barry John (5'9" 11 stone) would have to be on anyone's best list with more than five players mentioned, like maybe the top 15 players regarded as "small." I'd add Gareth Edwards, who was only 5'8", but he had to have been at least 13 stone. So what does small mean? Is 12 stone a weight limit, and 5'9" a height limit?

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10stonenumber10 August 03, 2014 12:14 pm

stats don't say everything... Just the kind of players who would be the smallest on the field in whatever game they played, and used it to their advantage



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larry August 02, 2014 5:56 pm

And another question: was it Dominici or La Salle who marked Lomu in the '99 WC semi final? Both were excellent small players.

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breakaway August 03, 2014 3:10 am

For me the standout small man missing is Grant Batty, at 5ft 5in (1.65m) and 70Kg. Tough as nails in a tough era, he copped more that his share of swinging arms both home and abroad. A brilliant winger but with only 15 All Black caps before a recurring knee injury forced an early retirement. Not a lot of film around, but here's an intercept try against the 1977 Lions, Batty's last test match.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGLn5UF3SxU

View Video

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Bob August 06, 2014 8:01 pm

Peter Stringer!!?? Where is Peter Stringer on this list??

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Mark Watkins September 11, 2014 10:55 pm

Jason Robinson should be number 1, Shane Williams couldn't lace Robo's boots.

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