TOKYO – Shane Williams once looked like the last of the dying breed as a smaller man in the game of rugby and the Wales and British and Irish Lions winger has been delighted by the re-emergence of the diminutive back at this World Cup.
Williams, who stands 5ft 7in tall, scored 60 tries in 91 matches over an 11-year international career, relying on pace and footwork in a game increasing dominated by power.
At this World Cup, the likes of South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe and Japan's Kotaro Matsushima have shown that lightning speed and dancing feet can still be effective in the modern game.
“It's been a breath of fresh air,” Williams, 42, told Reuters at an event organised by Rugby World Cup partners Land Rover. “It did seem to be going that way where you had complete athletes on the wing who were running the 100 metres in less than 11 seconds and benching 200 kilos in the gym.”
“But for the last two or three seasons, we've seen the likes of Cheslin and Matsushima making defences work. It's very difficult for guys like Eben Etzebeth at 6ft 7in getting low and trying to tackle the smaller guys around the waist.”