INFOGRAPHIC: How rugby players have changed shape

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Over the past 70 years the All Blacks' average weight has increased by 20kg.

Small, slender men who graced rugby pitches in the early 20th century are almost unrecognisable compared to the giant behemoths that play the sport in modern times.

The reason for this drastic change in body shape can be traced to the development of sports science. Players now know that weight training combined with protein-heavy diets will let them pack on the pounds needed to be effective in such a physical sport.

This infographic, provided by our friends at MaxiNutrition, provides an in depth, easy-to-read analysis of rugby players past and present and also reveals a direct correlation between increasing size and frequency of serious injuries.

Let us know your thoughts on the statistics and whether you agree with the implications or not using #360Rugby.

GSK Evolution of Rugby FINAL BRANDED 30.09.15

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UAE Rugby chief Al Dhalai lauds inaugural Arab Rugby 7s

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Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai is the first Arab Rugby Chairman.

Egypt successfully hosted the first Arab Rugby 7s at El-Gouna where the participating countries included United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and of course the hosts.

UAE rugby secretary general Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai was present at the historic event and revealed the reason behind the initiation of the ARF.

“A driving factor behind the Arab Federation for Rugby was the Pan Arab games,” he said. “We had thought of participating in the competition but we had to have a federation to do so.

“After that I contacted Rugby Federation presidents from most Arab countries like Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon. We came to an agreement and the federation was created.

“We have many experienced teams in the federation, such as Morocco who have been playing the game for over 100 years now.”

Regarding his history with the sport, Al Dhalai revealed a little-known detail about himself.

“When I was young I actually used to play football,” he told reporters. “I played for all age levels until the Emirati Olympic national team and with Al Wasl SC. I was even included in the second draft for the 2007 youth World Cup.

“But I fell in love with rugby and was later proudly chosen by the UAE’s Ministry of Youth and Sports to represent the Rugby Federation. I was even given the honor of representing my country at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The former AGL player clearly has a genuine affinity for rugby and highlighted why he prefers the sport over any other.

“Rugby is a game for everyone. It involves athleticism and your hands and legs are both highly involved in the game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your size is, you’ll get a position on the team. It encourages personal bonding between teammates and is actually a very fun sport.

“I guarantee that if you’d play just one match you’ll fall in love with it too.”

On the Arab Rugby 7s Al Dhalai was equally complimentary.

“Everything was perfect from the moment we arrived in Egypt,” the newly-appointed Arab Rugby 7s chairman said. “The organization of the tournament is excellent thanks to the Egyptian Rugby Football Union and their vice-president Hassan Khaled.

The Arab Rugby 7s tournament was initially scheduled to take place in Lebanon but they decided to withdraw from the event due to several factors.

“Lebanon played in two tournaments in the previous two weeks, one of them being in India,” he explained. “Five of their players became injured and subsequently it was almost impossible for them to travel to Egypt and have with a fully fit squad.

“In addition to the reason I stated, Lebanon’s political situation at the moment is not that stable so we did not want to be a burden on them.”

Al Dhalai confirmed that none of the participating countries had any safety concerns about coming to Egypt for the tournament.

“We had no safety worries before arriving here,” he said. “We spoke to our good friends in the ERFA and they confirmed to us that Egypt is safe and indeed it is.

“El-Gouna is the perfect venue for such an event, far away from all the crowded areas in Egypt.”

This article originally appeared on KingFut.com

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Ireland legend Paul O'Connell retires from rugby with immediate effect

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Paul O'Connell.

“It is with deep regret that I have decided to retire from professional rugby following medical advice,” O’Connell, 36, said in a statement published on the Irish Rugby website.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months.”

O’Connell, who won 108 caps for Ireland and seven caps for the British and Irish Lions, retired from international rugby late last year after a hamstring injury forced him out of the World Cup.

He had intended to see out his career with French Top 14 giants Toulon, having signed for them from Munster last year on a two-year contract, but his injury has forced him to abandon those plans without having played a single game for them.

“Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. Unfortunately this will no longer be possible,” he added.

“I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success.

“I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.

“I would like to thank those at Young Munster RFC, Munster Rugby, the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) and Lions Rugby who have supported me over the course of my playing career.”

O’Connell was part of the triumphant Lions tour of Australia in 2013 and also toured New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa in 2009, when he was captain.

He won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and two European Cups with Munster — the only club he ever played for — as well as the Celtic League three times.

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