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Top ten heaviest players in world rugby

The late Springboks coach Kitch Christie said: ‘Give me a strong tighthead and I’ll build you a strong team’.


Jason Leonard, former England and British & Irish Lions prop, explained it best when he said ‘to be a good prop, you’ve really got to enjoy the position – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, putting your head where it hurts’.

No matter how fast and powerful the game becomes, a prop will always be a prop. Nowadays that prop also has to catch and time a pass to put team-mates into space. Many top props are now very powerful runners and you may even see the odd sidestep.

It’s possibly the only true position on the field where you actually have a one-on-one with your opposite number. Props should be square, built like, well, like bricks basically.

They say the more muscle the better, the tougher the better, the stronger the better, the more intimidating the better.

Rugby is a game of big hits and even bigger players and since players don’t have thick padding like in American Football, they need a bit of padding in pounds or kilograms.

At well over 125 kg, all of these rugby players are some of the fittest big men in the world of sports. There are a host of really big, strong men in the frontrow.


Below we have narrowed it down to the top ten heaviest rugby players playing rugby all over the world, they are by no means the only Hulks plying their trade on the rugby field, but they are some of the bigger ones out there.

10. Frans Malherbe: 286lbs/130kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby

There is a reason one of the strongest scrummaging teams in world rugby over the last decade has had the 44-cap Malherbe at the crucial tighthead position when he is fit.

Come under him and he will stretch (he has longer legs than it would seem). You cannot get over him. The best bet is to try to turn in, but Frans does more pushing and pulling at the engagement than most. It is difficult to find his chest. It is hard to find his pain threshold.

The 31-year-old South African prop stands at 1.9 m tall (6 ft 3 in) and weighs in at 130 kg (20 st 6.60 lb; 286.60 lb).

9. Zane Kapeli: 287lbs/130.2kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
Zane Kapeli in Chiefs colours. (Photo by Getty Images).

Tongan players are notorious for their immense size and strength. Zane Kapeli, weighing in at 284 pounds / 130.2 kg, is one of the largest men to play the game of rugby today and ranks number ten all-time.

He represented the Highlanders in 2020 before signing with the Chiefs in 2021.

8. Taniela Tupou: 291 lbs/132kg

Taniela Tupou v England 2022
Taniela Tupou winds up vs England in 2022 (Photo by Getty Images).

Weighing in at 291 pounds, Tupou started his career with a bang scoring a hat trick of tries in his first official match and lighting up highlight reels ever since.

In 2020, he had a successful season with over 30 tackles and three tries. As a player in his late twenties, Tuopou is just hitting his stride as a professional and entering his prime as one of the largest bruisers in the game.

The 26-year-old Wallabies prop is a fans’ favourite with his powerful runs and deft offloads, while his scrummaging isn’t half-bad either

7. Rhys Carre: 293lbs/133kg

Rhys Carre Saracens
Rhys Carre at Saracens photo shoot.

As a newer member of the Wales rugby team, Rhys Carre is a 293 pound force to be reckoned with. He got his call up for Six Nations Wales team in 2020.

The 24-year-old represents Cardiff as loosehead prop. He joined Saracens for the 2019-20 season before returning to Cardiff the following season.

6. Paul Willemse 297lbs/135kg

Paul Willemse France
Paul Willemse dots down for France. (Photo by Getty Images).

The South African had to leave his country before coming into his own after he joined Montpellier where he has since thrived.

He grew up in Namibia before returning to South Africa in 2010 to attend Monument High School in Gauteng where he made his Super Rugby debut in 2012 for the Lions. The big lock then made his move north to Top 14 side Grenoble in 2014.

From 2017, he qualified under the three-year residency rule, but had to prove that his inclusion in South Africa’s U20 side in 2012 did not tie him to his country of birth. Once the paperwork was complete, he debuted for les Bleus in 2019 against Wales.

5. WillGriff John 308 lbs/140kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
WillGriff John (Photo by Getty Images).

John is an English born Welsh qualified rugby union player that currently plays for Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship. His playing position is tighthead prop.

The big Welsh international has been consistently one of the biggest blokes in the tournament, weighing in at an impressive 140kg.

4. James Johnston: 308 lbs/140 kg


Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
James Johnston is a genuinely big unit. (Photo by Getty Images).

As one of only a few rugby players weighing in at over 300 pounds on this list, James Johnston is a Samoan player.

His career started with Harlequins in 2009 and since then he has moved around quite a bit, representing Saracens, Wasps, Worcester Warriors and Brive before joining Rouen in 2020.

The man-mountain tighthead has been described as a beast by some of his coaches.

3. Opeti Fonua: 330 lbs/149.6 kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
Opeti Fonua reacts during the Aviva Premiership match between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park on December 4, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Tongan born Fonua plays number 8 for SU Agen, having transferred from Newcastle Falcons.

Known for his immense size and strength, he can also move around with surprisingly high levels of speed and agility for his size (his official weight according to his Su Agen profile is 150 kg).

He is a highly physical player, both with and without the ball, and not surprisingly, is known for big tackles and strong carries

2. Ben Tameifuna: 352 lbs/160kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
Ben Tameifuna back in his Chiefs days. (Photo by Getty Images).

The weight of this behemoth rugger has always been widely discussed. Tameifuna has been ordered to lose 20 kilograms of weight after he showed up to the Rugby World Cup practices at one of the heaviest weights of his career.

In May 2012 he was selected for the All Blacks to train for the three Test series against Ireland. At over 130 kg, he was the heaviest member of the All Black squad. Tameifuna was not capped for New Zealand.

He eventually made his international debut for Tonga against Wales on 16 June 2017.

After four years with the Chiefs, Tameifuna signed with Racing Metro in 2015 before moving to French rivals Bordeaux for the 2020–21 season.

1.Walid Maamry 374.79 lb/170 kg

Top ten heaviest players in world rugby
Walid Maamry is a very big boy.

This behemoth is built like a human bowling ball.

The 23-year-old French rugby player is 1.99 m tall who currently plays for Bédarrides Chateauneuf in France as lock.

The tighthead prop represented the Les Blues under 20 squad as a 17 year-old.

Maamry is widely regarded as the heaviest player in the professional game.

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