15 Biggest Rugby Players Ever (2024 Updated)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
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Rugby is renowned for showcasing some of the most colossal athletes in the world.

The recent Rugby World Cup highlighted that today's players are not just bigger but stronger, echoing the might of ancient Roman gladiators and often surpassing the size of American football players.

Our global research into Rugby Union players has been distilled into a ranking by weight based on their official profiles.

Prepare to be astounded—these players are true behemoths of the sport!

The World’s Biggest International Rugby Players

These giants of the game not only bring immense physical power to each match but also embody the spirit and passion that make rugby an exhilarating global sport.

Let's meet the titans whose strength and skill have left an indelible mark on rugby's international stage.

1 - Opeti Fonua

Opeti Fonua waving during a rugby match
  • Height: 6’6”
  • Weight: 308 lbs

Having watched Opeti play live, I was astounded by his sheer presence on the field. His weight, which peaked a few years ago at over 300 pounds, is truly a sight to behold.

That’s an immense size, and if you look up some videos of him playing for the English team Leicester Tigers or Tonga during the World Cup tournament, you’ll get an idea of how he can make other rugby players just bounce off him.

2 - Taniela Tupou

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 298 lbs

There must be something in the Tongan genes and diet because while Taniela Tupou plays on the international team for Australia, on a weight-to-height ratio, he would beat Opeti.

Taniela Tupou's on-field prowess and dedication in the gym are a testament to the rigorous training regimens rugby players must endure to maintain their physique and performance.

From the moment he made his international debut at a World Cup qualifier, the rugby world knew it had a new star-tight head prop.

 

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A post shared by Taniela Tupou (@taniela_2pou)

3 - Alesana Tuilagi

Alesana Tuilagi during a rugby match
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 273 lbs

Alesana is one of the infamous Tuilagi brothers from Samoa. There are five of them in total, and they all play rugby. And you most certainly don’t want to get on their wrong side.

For a man who plays on the wing, he has a surprising amount of speed despite his sheer size.

4 - Eben Etzebeth

  • Height: 6’8”
  • Weight: 269 lbs

Eben is a South African Rugby Union player, and he’s one of the tallest rugby players on our list at 6’8”. With that height and weight, he is known for punishingly big hits.

He’s also one of the strongest on the South African squad, as he can reportedly bench press 385 lbs.

 

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A post shared by Eben Etzebeth (@ebenetzebeth4)

5 - Andrew Porter

  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 269 lbs

Andrew Porter is an Irish Rugby Union player who plays for his home team, Leinster.

He plays both in a tight and loose forward position, and according to some sources, he can squat over 770 pounds. That makes him an immense asset for the scrum.

 

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A post shared by ANDREW PORTER (@andrewporter___)

6 - Joe Marler

  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 260 lbs

Joe Marler is probably England’s biggest Rugby Union player, or at least we weren't able to find any bigger rugby players in England.

He’s been a fighting force at the World Cup and is arguably one of the best loosehead props to have played the game in recent years.

And with over 220 appearances for his home team Harlequins, he’s set to become one of the team’s longest-serving players.

7 - James Haskell

  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 260 lbs

Here’s a Rugby Union player who literally looks like a gladiator.

Adhering to a 40/30/30 macronutrient split, James Haskell's diet delivers a massive 310 grams of protein, 310 grams of carbohydrates, and 120 grams of fat, totaling a daily intake of 3500-3560 calories.

Considering his diet, it's no wonder there's not an ounce of excess fat on his body.

 

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A post shared by James Haskell (@jameshaskell)

Apparently, he can bench press over 400 lbs, which explains why fans look forward to him simply pushing other players out of the way.

8 - Tendai Mtawarira

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 260 lbs

I've seen Tendai in action, and trust me, his athletic prowess is unmatched. Whatever sport he'd choose, he'd surely dominate with his sheer force.

The rugby player from South Africa is also called “The Beast” for being such a powerhouse on the front row of his club (the Sharks) and national team.

 

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A post shared by Beast (@tendaimtawarira)

Apparently, he can squat over 540 lbs, which makes him possibly the strongest rugby player in his country.

9 - David Pocock

  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 254 lbs

Let’s get back to Australia and take a look at David Pocock, who weighs in at over 250 lbs. He is a huge flanker and plays for his home team, the Brumbies, in Australia.

And ever since his early days in professional rugby as a youngster, he has had a great scoring record throughout his career.

 

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A post shared by David Pocock (@davidpocock)

10 - Josua Tuisova

Josua Tuisova during a rugby match
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 249 lbs

Josua Tuisova is a massive rugby player from Fiji and a surprisingly big rugby player to play on the wing.

He is a clear example that size isn't everything in rugby; despite his massive size, Josua Tuisova showcases incredible speed, covering 90 meters in just 10 seconds.

This perfect blend of size and skill makes these players truly exceptional.

Someone has timed him running 90 meters in 10 seconds, which isn't far off Olympic sprint speeds.

11 - Sergio Parisse

  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 249 lbs

Born in Italy and playing for Toulon, Sergio is also the captain of the Italian team. Weighing in at just under 250 pounds, he’s the biggest rugby player in Italy.

He was rumored to be heading to play the game in France, but so far, he has denied such a move will happen.

12 - Jamie Roberts

  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 243 lbs

Jamie is the biggest rugby player from Wales, and at 6’4”, he’s also among the taller ones. His club is the Dragons, and he has won 94 caps for the Welsh national squad as well.

He’s played the game professionally since 2007, but his age doesn't seem to be slowing him down or making him less imposing.

 

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A post shared by Jamie Roberts (@jamiehuwroberts)

13 - Manu Tuilagi

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 242 lbs

Here is the second of the Tuilagi brothers from Samoa, and he’s arguably the strongest one in the family. Being able to bench press 415 pounds, he could make it onto the list of the strongest players in the sport as well.

He recently left the Leicester Tigers to join the Sale Sharks, where he might see out the remainder of a massive career.

 

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A post shared by Manu Tuilagi (@tuilagimanu)

14 - Sonny Bill Williams

  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 238

Sonny Bill is arguably the greatest player from New Zealand since Jonah Lomu.

While it’s unfair to compare Sonny to Jona Lomu, considering that the game has changed a lot, he certainly enjoys the same level of worship and respect.

And because he was a professional boxer in New Zealand, it’s another reason to be careful of his barging runs.

“For me to get through the toughest periods in my life, I had to look within to find the energy to do it. I don't give up. Never have. Never will.”

- Jonah Lomu

15 - Sean O’Brien

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 238 lbs

At the age of just 24 years, Sean O’Brien is also one of the younger rugby players with such an imposing physique. You can hardly believe this man's age since he has that lovable, rugged look while sporting a winning smile.

He plays for London Irish in the English Premier League and has also made it onto the Irish and British Lions squads.

 

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A post shared by Sean O'Brien (@seanobrien678)

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