From the great speedsters such as Jason Robinson and Bryan Habana, to Shane Williams and the late Jonah Lomu; we've welcomed new pace merchants into world rugby – whether they make it to the heights of these four legends is another matter but one thing’s for sure, the guys below can certainly move!
The men ‘with wheels’ are undoubtedly one of the key components of what makes our game great. When a game of repetitive rolling mauls creates an 8 Vs. 8 scenario , the solution is often SPEED.
A side that may be losing a match up front may also have the gift of being able to spread the ball through mercurial backs with skill and speed at their disposal, who, when their moment arrives have the ability to set the game alight. They possess the attributes that can turn a rather dull affair into something very pleasing on the eye.
Here’s a list of some of the quickest blokes in the game today:
Team: USA Sevens
In some (very harsh) respects, Carlin could be viewed as a, 'failed athlete,’ training as a sprinter long before turning to any ball sport. In the age of Usain Bolt’s supremacy, which includes breaking records and constantly running under 10 seconds, it left those running the 100m in 10.24 seconds, rather obsolete.
Although his astonishing pace makes him one of the standout players on the sevens circuit, he does lack an imposing, physical presence on the pitch. Which begs the question: What if Isles had the build of Bolt? Would we be looking at one of Rugby’s Super Players?
Breaking into the Wasps senior squad at 19, this little guy, who stands at only 5ft 8in, is a player who has put his lightning speed to great use. Without his pace, he'd potentially struggle in professional rugby. Wade’s pace and low centre of gravity could be likened to that of a velodrome cyclist, as his body turns and tilts at suchspeed, it makes him an almost un-defendable opponent.
He’s a small but mighty package that leaves defences shaking in their high viz apparel. (Saints)
Club: Leicester Tigers
Jonny May; this bloke loves a chip n’ chase and frankly produces them far too frequently for my liking. Yet, he does have some serious gas and the ability to jink through (or run around) defences, and after his own kicks. This avid punter is a mainstay at the top of the try-scoring stats, for both club and country, and I’m sure we’ll see him continue to terrify defences with his wheels. Maybe just ease up on the kicks though eh Jonny?
Club: Natal Sharks
Mvovo, a name probably not that well known in the Northern Hemisphere, yet I can assure you it’s renowned for giving defenders' nightmares in super rugby due to the lad’s immense pace. He posseses speed suited to that of a international sprinter, with a 100m time of 10.6 - the likelihood is that if he steps you, no one is catching Mvovo - and if you get past him, he's probably catching you. Eh BOD? #Seeya
Club: Munster Rugby
Position: Wing / Full Back
The cork-born speedster is one of the more unorthodox members of the men with wheels. Zebo, who stands at 6 foot 3 and currently holds 35 caps for his country, boosts a an extremely impressive skill set (who remember that little flick from boot to hand), which is seldom common for the position he plays (wingers especially). what i'm saying is pace may not be the first attribute that comes to mind when you think of Zebo.
However Zebo fits in this list very comfortably – in fact, his electric pace may even be enhanced when running with ball in hand. Zebo's rather impressive acceleration often leaves defenders in his wake.
Now, let's remember, i'm not for one minute saying these five are the best wingers in the world; far from it, i'm simply saying that when they get going, Boy they're tough to catch.
I believe that with the fitness and conditioning of rugby players now being on par with Olympic athletes, the best solution to work towards is to have a squad of 15 mobile athletic rugby players opposed to just the backline. Pace is becoming more and more crucial on the field and it won't be long where most teams have a dynamic looking 15, packed with speedsters.