Is it time to introduce ‘The Fatty Rule’?

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    Paul ‘The Fatman’ Vautin was a grand final captain for Manly in 1987, captained Queensland in two winning State of Origin games, and was an Australian Kangaroo representative.

    Other famous men to captain a winning grand final team (NSWRL/ARL/NRL), captain Queensland, and play for the Kangaroos include: Arthur Beetson (Roosters), Mal Meninga (Canberra Raiders), Allan Langer (Brisbane Broncos), Darren Lockyer (Brisbane Broncos) and Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm).

    Only 18 Queenslanders have played more Origin games than Fatty.

    How big was the Fat?
    If you lined up every Australian male in order of height, the Fat would be in the middle. Standing at 176cm, Vautin the lock/second rower is the same height as the average Australian male. And that is the problem, modern Origin players are tall and average 185cm, 9cm taller than Fat.

    The smallest Origin players this series were five eighths Anthony Milford and James Maloney. Each 176cm, same height as Fatty, same height as the average Australian.

    Bottom line, the Queensland Origin team would never select a tiny tot in the forwards. And how much poorer would the game be without the Fat, a dead set character of the game.

    And herein lies the problem. If a player like Paul Vautin would be overlooked due to being a comparative ‘runt of the litter’ in the modern era, have the NRL effectively destroyed hope and marginalised future rugby league players and supporters? And to the detriment of the NRL, has the NRL restricted itself to a smaller stock of players?

    Paul Fatty Vautin at the Logies for the Footy Show

    Maybe State of Origin is not your cup of tea. What do you want to be? A Wallaby? For most Australians, no chance. The 2015 Wallabies average height was approximately 188cm. Immediately a line is drawn through the names of the majority of would be rugby players. This means there is limited playing stocks available for professional rugby union to pick from.

    Ok you live on the other side of the Barassi line, Australian Rules football it is. Surely Aussie rules is getting it right? Nope. The AFL is now geared towards players who are tall and able to run for miles each game. The average AFL player is 188 cm.

    The result is this. Soccer is now a viable option in both rugby and AFL heartland. Soccer is getting a lot of things right, but perhaps its greatest attribute is that height (and bulk size) is not an advantage to the same extent which it can be in rugby union/rugby league/AFL.

    What rugby union, rugby league and AFL are guilty of is mirroring the trends in American gridiron and basketball. This has happened in the span of a mere 40 years.

    A lot of parents look at their kids and know they are not tall enough, or bulky enough. The English also average 176cm, and New Zealand 177cm.

    The Fatman Rule
    If I was king I would implement a boxing weight division style ‘Fatman Rule.’ The Fatman Rule would ensure that at the elite level, whenever a team takes the field, the playing team’s average height must not exceed the average Australian male’s height. Further the average BMI of the team must be within the average BMI range of a healthy Australian male. After all, team sports are supposed to be about being healthy, not bulky.

    What would be the result? Participation rates and crowds would stand to increase. The game would have become about the every man again. Playing stocks would immediately swell at the elite NRL/rugby union/AFL level. A larger pool would suggest that you would be able to pick both great players and characters/role models for the game.

    Heaven forbid more characters like Paul Vautin might emerge from this type of rule.

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