This time around the topic for the Fantasy XV is Sportsmen, people who have clearly wasted their god given talents by not playing rugby. To keep things interesting only one player per sport has been allowed, and I’ve counted Rugby League as too similar, although given Andy Farrell’s success in an England shirt I’m not too sure any would have made it anyway. (Jason Robinson is a freak for God’s sake!).
Marius Pudzianowski – monster tighthead
1. Geoff Capes – (Shot Put). Although a former World’s Strongest Man, I’ve sneaked him in at loose-head as a former shot-putter. Prodigious strength although he may be a little heavy handed if given the ball.
2. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor – (Darts). An easy choice for hooker. Incredible throwing accuracy would mean the jumpers could only look at themselves if the line-out wasn’t successful. Good bulk for the scrum but likely to struggle to get around the park. Sociably excellent.
3. Marius Pudzianowski – (Strongman). World’s Strongest man on four occasions. Personal bests for weightlifting would make even Andrew Sheridan raise an eyebrow as they packed down for battle. An obvious choice for tight-head: Bench press – 628 pounds (285 kg); Squat – 826 pounds (375 kg); Deadlift – 925 pounds (420 kg).
4. Ian Thorpe – (Swimming). Massive hands make him a good target in the line-out. Obviously very comfortable on rainy days and wet pitches.
5. Michael Jordan – (Basketball). Quite simply would have been a colossus if he had been introduced to rugby, and not netball, at an early age. Could possibly have pioneered the no lifters required line-out and dominated re-starts. However, I believe cross-field kicks would have taken on a whole new dimension with Mr. Jordan on the receiving end.
6. Sir Steve Redgrave – (Rowing). The greatest Olympian of all time slots in nicely at blind-side flanker. His supreme fitness lending itself to the graft of this position and his height making him a useful extra option at the line-out.
7. Royce Gracie – (U.F.C./Jiu-Jitsu). Winner of the first four Ultimate Fighting Championships despite only being 6ft and 12 ½ stone. Royce’s technical excellence and grappling skills would make him an excellent open-side particularly in the dark worlds of rucking and mauling.
8. Andrew Flintoff – (Cricket) (c). Big man with great hands, ideal for No. 8. Tactical nous required for cricket captaincy should help him command the side but outstanding drinking credentials (see 2005 Ashes celebrations) would help foster good team spirit as well.
9. Frankie Dettori – (Horse Racing). Good scrum halves are little men with big personalities and Frankie fits the bill perfectly. Used to bossing around dumb animals, this is another pre-requisite for a man behind the pack. Jockeys are tough little b*ggers too.
10. Pele – (Football). I was slightly loathed to include a footballer, but the greatest soccer player of all time comes from an age where football was a more decent game. Obviously would favour a kicking game but could alternate with Federer to ensure good variety in the back-line tactics.
11. Chris Hoy – (Cycling). The Olympic Gold medallist over 1km, Hoy has massive explosive power. Thighs like tree trunks would make him a nightmare to tackle and it is easy to imagine him coming off his wing to cause some havoc.
12. Roger Federer – (Tennis). Superb hands and with plenty of deft touches Federer has the potential to light up a back-line. Defensively may be a bit lacking but loves grass surfaces.
13. Muhammed Ali – (Boxing). In positional terms, a contentious choice to include Ali at outside centre, but I believe his speed as well as size would make him pretty handy in the midfield. Should also be able to offer the opposition backs some choice comments during set pieces.
14. Michael Johnson – (200m/400m runner). I know there a more obvious candidates from 100m but they are, in the main, arrogant d*cks. And I also know his leaned back style is all wrong in terms of body positions for rugby but I just have a glorious image of Johnson gliding down the wing, ball tucked under one arm that I can’t get out of my head. He’s not exactly slow either.
15. Terrell Owens – (American Football). Although a Wide Receiver in Gridiron, Owens’ skills at plucking the ball out of the sky lend itself more to full-back in Rugby Union. Also, given his power, employing him as a strike runner through the midfield would also play to his strengths. Probably not got a great kicking game but with the talent in this team that’s nothing to worry about.
A strong team in my eyes although I can see potential weaknesses in terms of 10-12 defence and ballast in the second-row (although to my mind the front-row more than covers this). Any suggested improvements?
By Kemlo Longstaff