Mean green machine

Paul Roos’s Springboks of 1906 would have no chance against John Smit’s monsters of 2006 if the two teams were to play against each other today.

Apart from the law changes – which would surely take months for the Original Boks to learn – they would simply be too light and small to stand a chance.

According to Die Burger newspaper, research undertaken by Professor Hans de Ridder of the school for biokinetics and sports science at the North-West University (Puk campus), as well as Edri Meyer, a post-graduate student, shows that the Boks are on average nearly 23kg heavier and about 10cm taller than the players who wore the green and gold a century ago.

On average the Springboks now weigh 99.2kg, compared to the 76kg a hundred years ago.

The forwards on average weigh about 110.8kg and backs about 87.5kg. A century ago it was about 83kg and 72kg.

They are also taller – on average 1.86m in their socks, exactly 10cm taller than the 1.76cm of the past.

De Ridder believes that evolution differs from place to place, but on average people are growing between 1 and 2cm taller and between 1 and 3kg heavier every decade.

Improved nutrition and supplements also lead to bigger players.

“The training methods are also more professional and scientific. The players are doing, for example, a lot of strength exercises in the gymnasium, which increases muscle mass,” De Ridder told Die Burger.

It is hoped to eventually determine when the evolution pattern evens out. De Ridder thinks it is important that attention is given to this research, because it could have an influence on injury tendencies.

“It’s not just a bigger opponent you have to tackle, but it also puts a bigger burden on the muscles and ligaments.”