With the global spectacle of the Rugby World Cup having just started we couldn’t help but think about which wrestlers would make great rugby players.
This led us to creating our best 15 from promotions around the world. I’m sure these selections will be as divisive as the ones happening out in Japan but firstly I present you the New Japan Pro Wrestling XV.
15 – Will Ospreay
The list will see some of the greatest NJPW talents ever named in the side but in having Will Ospreay at 15 we have a man about to wreak havoc in open play. In a similar vein to Kota Ibushi, Ospreay’s creativity will get chance to shine from the full back position with the added time and space the position allows him. The aerial assassin won’t let a single high ball be dropped and when left as the last line of defence he will make every tackle.
14 – SHO
A member of Roppongi 3K makes the team here, in rugby it’s claimed that the back are the pretty boys and SHO is hell of a handsome man. His handsomeness isn’t why he’s here, the balance across the three-quarters sees SHO add strong and physical running style while having all three members be from CHAOS will give a strong understanding for them to work together.
13 – Kota Ibushi
Rugby is about partnerships and if this centre partnership doesn’t get you excited then no combination will. In Ibushi we have a man who has incredible stamina and another man who craves off chaos, he will have the pace to make outside breaks, the creative thinking to break down opposition defences and without a doubt there will be plenty of fireworks while he’s on the pitch
12 – Kazuchika Okada
The 2019 G1 Climax winner paired with the current IWGP heavyweight champion, a partnership made in puroresu heaven. The longest reigning IWGP heavyweight champion is just the sort of man you would want at inside centre, a man who can do it all and could play several positions throughout the side. A strong runner with delicate hands and what I’m sure would be an exemplary kicking game ready to unleash CHAOS on any backline.
11 – Robbie Eagles
The Sniper of the Skies was an easy choice; his pace is electric and has the footwork to make a difference in the first few yards. Having a background in playing both rugby and football gives him a solid base in skills and I’m sure with a nickname like the Sniper of the Skies will see him being able to pick a gap and make it through.
10 – Hiroshi Tanahashi
Who else could be the outside half, the man that everything goes through and usually the player that drags a team from the dark times to the better times. The ace of New Japan may not be the flashiest of players who could fill this role but the quality outside of him will more than make up for this, a calm head in situations who can turn on style when needed.
9 – Rocky Romero
He’s the king of sneaky style and this is just the skill set we need from our scrum-half. Rocky has the size that will see him have the ability to sneak through small gaps and leave bigger plays wondering where he’s gone with his elusive footwork and superb acceleration. A true commander as we have seen in his leadership of Roppongi 3K, this will see him well equipped to marshal his pack around the
1 – Bad Luck Fale
The Tongan is a must for this side, the Rogue General never takes a step back and has been known to use underhand tactics when needed. With a strong rugby background his skills can’t be matched and will be an important part in a monstrous front row.
2 – Toru Yano
No other man can fill in this spot, sat in between two big brutes is the man who is full of tricks that would surely have the legendary rugby commentator Bill McLaren utterly his legendary line “there’s some jiggery pokery going on in the front row”. As much as we see a lot of his tricky side he’s never one to not knuckle down when he needs to and will put the hard work in when required.
3 – Tomohiro Ishii
A long running joke in rugby is that props don’t have necks, so who better to be the final man in the front row. A man with an iron will who never takes a step back regardless of what or who is in front of him. He won’t be afraid to take the ball and look for contact and will relish the scrummaging aspect of the game too.
4 – Lance Archer
One aspect every coach looks for in a second row is height, measuring in at 6 foot 8 inches Lance Archer truly ticks this box. He would take up an important role in being a member of the pack with a hard edge who isn’t afraid to take it to the opposition and won’t be afraid to hit a tackle or ruck a little bit late to do some damage.
5 – Juice Robinson
At 6 foot 3 inches Juice won’t be the tallest of second rows that you’ll see in this series but what lacks in pure height, he more than makes up for in pure athleticism and energy that will bring his team along and drag them to bring out the extra 5% when needed. He will inevitably have some flamboyant skills, so don’t be shocked if you see him pull out a chip and chase and win the ball back.
6 – Tama Tonga
The good bad boy takes the spot at blindside. His incredible vertical leap will be a key asset in line outs while his speed around the pitch will be welcomed when linking the forwards and backs together and when found in the back line in broken play he will be reminiscent of Justin Tipuric.
7 – Minoru Suzuki
The king of pro wrestling is my immediate choice for the number 7 shirt, I cannot imagine anyone else relishing peeling off a scrum or lineout and making a beeline for the outside half than Suzuki himself. Like Ishii, he will never take a step back at ruck time and will relish the contact that you would expect an openside flanker to. Imagine the fear he would strike into his opponents when he wins a penalty at the ruck and comes out of it laughing that his opponents were unable to move him off the ball.
8 – Shingo Takagi
Okay, so is he a junior or is he heavyweight? This is exactly why I picked the man from Los Ingobernables De Japon. He has the frame to be an imposing force around the pitch and isn’t fazed by coming up against any man bigger than him while he has mobility and speed that will be explosive off the back of a scrum.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @MikeCMears. Thanks for reading!