Just what is it about mullets and rugby? The mullet, as we know, has a long, storied history and its routes can be traced back to ancient civilisations, but why rugby? Is it a hark back to ancient times where the mullet was seen as a symbol of power or strength? Are they channeling a unit of Greek spearman, whom Homer himself described as having “their forelocks cropped, hair grown long at the backs”? Or are they responding to the more recent cultural phenomenon that saw 2020 named the year of the mullet? Or is it simply a question best left unanswered so we can relax and delight in a group by group breakdown of the greatest ‘business at the front, party at the back’ masterpieces that will soon be gracing the field of play.
Group A: Rugby Mullets of France, New Zealand, Italy, Uraguay & Namibia
Peato Mauvaka: Whilst this year’s cohort seems to lack a certain joi de vivre in the haircut department, Mauvaka has literally taken the weight on his shoulders.
Mullet aficionados would likely describe this superb specimen as a classic example of the Cropped Mullet Fade. Mauvaka himself, according to a later Instagram post has self-titled it the ‘Blue Wave’.
Tamaiti Williams: I mean, would you just look at it? It has a volume that would even the healthiest privet hedges greener with envy. You might speculate that the sheer mass of it might impact on speed but with himself tipping the scales at around 140KG it barely registers.
We can but hope that given his versatility on both sides of scrum gets Williams a decent amount of minutes on the field. Which his opera of haircut and frankly the tournament itself deserves.
Italy, Mamma Mia! Where did it all go wrong? Home of one of the all time mullet rugby greats in Martin Castrogiovanni, sadly, this heritage has skipped a generation at RWC2023.
It was so, so close. Just take a look at Hooker Hame Faiva‘s effort from the 2022 Six Nations. A tightly cropped lawn giving way to a jungle, one for mullet purists everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s now a closely cropped, shadow of its former glory.
Now, Uraguay may not go on to win the Rugby World Cup, but if there were a ‘greatest mullets of the Rugby World Cup’ competition, they’re heading to the knockout stages.
A classic mullet, you can almost smell the 80’s off this one. It’s a mullet’s mullet, the kind of which fellow Hooker Shane Byrne would be proud. Whilst he’s a Uruguayan called German playing in Provence there’s something about this haircut that suggests he’s a big fan of NASCAR, almost certainly a Billy Ray Cyrus fan, only when alone in his oversize pickup truck. Bravo German, bravo.
Namibiaa, Namibia, oh have you seen Namibia, Namibia the rugby union team?*
Namibia known as the Welwitschias, essentially the world’s toughest plant, it lives only in the desert, has two leaves and can harvest nutrients from fog. It’s one of the world’s rarest plants, almost as rare as a Namibian rugby squad photo. At least half a dozen of the squad have private Instagrams, so I can be certain, but I’m fairly confident, they have zero mullets.
By way of recompense here’s a pic of one of Namibia’s favourite sons Jacques Burger. Capped 41 times by Namibia, Burger was named as one of the top 5 players of the 2015 tournament, no small feat considering they lost every game.
*If you got this reference, drop in a comment, and I’ll send you a T-shirt.
Group B: Rugby Mullets of South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga & Romania
Reigning World Champions South Africa might not have brought their A-game to the rugby mulet world cup, but much like in the actual rugby, they are exploring all avenues of the law book.
Exhibit A; R G Snyman is almost there, its a bit like being a Munster fan during his battle with injury. It hurts more because you can see so much potential. It’s a mohawk wanting to be a mullet, let it grow, let it grow.
Exhibit B; Faf De Klerk it’s not a mullet. Clearly, the man knows his hair, to the point I find myself wholly unqualified to comment further. Former Sale teammate and roommate Jono Ross described how this man washes his hair at least three times a day. You’d think he’d wear it out, but on this evidence, not the case.
Exhibit C; Eben Etzebeth the Cape Town native is just off the mark here. Realistically, if himself and Snyman got a bit looser at the back this would likely bring unparalleled mullet power to the Springbok second row.
Is this a cautionary tale for the tournament? South Africa, so close, but yet, no NASCAR.
Ever since Mack Hansen’s tribute to Keith Earls’ 100 caps saw the death of his mullet, we’ve been waiting to see who’d answer Ireland’s call and provide us with a worthy replacement
In storms 125KGs of Andrew Gerald Porter with a mullet looking like it could bench 350 kilos on its own. Look at the playful bit of fringe and shaved to the skin on the sides. This mullet is all party no business and will undoubtedly add a dimension or two to Ireland’s World Cup journey.
Congratulations Andrew, mighty stuff!
With Stuart Hogg having finished up with Scotland, the opportunities for follicle flamboyance we knew would be limited. Once we saw Scottish Aussie Jack Dempsey sporting a short back and sides during the summer warm ups, the prospect looked slimmer still.
As we can see from this pic from Team Scotlands Instagram of Darcy Graham shows, there is undoubtedly follicle flamboyance within the side. Whatever this is though, it’s no mullet, closer to a young Bobby Ball.
There is hope though, in the form of Hamish Watson, see that curl flicking out to the left, just itching to start a party at the back! The further in the tournament team Scotland can go, the mullet can grow.
While there maybe potential in the Scottish backrow. Tonga have potential all over the field, we don’t need an increase in hair as much as an increase in media coverage. It looks like we have an incredible option in Loosehead Prop Paula Latu. It’s definitely not the mullets best side on show here and this could turn out to be something as disappointing as a ponytail, but lads, think of the possibilities.
Having been brought up in the Rocky IV era, I wrongly assume the majority of Eastern European rugby players will be Ivan Dragoesque. On that basis I expected a fruitless trawl through Ivan Lendl lookalikes and then up popped Rob Iramescu with a potential World Cup winner. Rob is a New York born Hooker of Romanian parentage, who moved to Romania full time to pursue his dream of making the World Cup. I’m delighted his dreams, and ours came true.
Group C: Rugby Mullets of Wales, Australia, Fiji, Georgia & Portugal
Wales. The spiritual home of the mullet is often thought to be Australia, yet if anyone has ever spent a match weekend in Cardiff would testify, that Wales must be a close second. Almost every Wales legend of yesteryear has at one stage rocked the mullet, Gavin Henson, Shane Williams, Richard Hibbard & even OG Jonathon Davies have sported the sharp front and party back.
With this latest squad including ardent mulleteer Tomas Francis, you would expect to find a bounty of mullets to choose from. Not so, the closest we have is this, from Aaron Wainwright.
I mean it’s not a mullet, but it could be.
This bit was written before I started, no research needed, a classic slice of wiry blonde mop, on a youthful, inexperienced 10. Is there anything more Australian? more Eddie Jones? Then came round 1 and Australia Vs Georgia, Carter Gordon has tamed the mane.
Enter stage right, powerful back-rower Rob Leota. What it lacks in blonde this haircut more than makes up for in body. It has the presence of an Eddie Jones 2 a.m. voicemail. If Jones’ young side are going to make a real impact on the tournament, I’d wager this mullet will be the catalyst.
Simione (Simi) Kuruvoli is a young Fijian scrum half with an eye for the tryline and the hairline.
There is so much hair in this Fiji squad they could be accused of stockpiling, still, something stood out about this doo. Is it the tache mullet combo? The pumped up volume? Hard to say, but it’s clear that these locks could be the keys to the Pacific Islanders’ success.
If you’ve paid any attention at all to Georgian rugby over the last few years you’ll be familiar with the impressive talent that is Davit Niniashvili. The Fullback come winger ploys his trade at Lyon and has been a regular starter over the past few seasons.
This is his first World Cup and he’s announced his presence at the top table with a World class mullet. Good man Davit
Simão Bento is a 22 year old back three player currently with Stade Montois Rugby in the French Pro D2 and were third in the league last season. He describes himself as a “fake fast player” though I think the meaning may have taken a hammering during translation. He sees himself as a guy who’s not incredibly fast or has a huge boot, but is able to read what’s in front of him. Now that’s not my Portuguese telling me that, it’s the hair.
Group D: Rugby Mullets of England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa & Chile
I’ll agree with you, there are more standard mullet examples within the England squad. Both Will Stuart & Billy Vunipola are likely left wondering why their own wavy teases aren’t gracing these pages. Their complaint would be warranted. For what we have here, granted, is not a mullet.
The gift that Joe Marler‘s receding hairline gives us couldn’t be more business at the front, it’s so not out of place, it’s not even there. Likewise, it has to be partying at the back, as it’s bleach blonde & the only sign of life at all. So what is a balding mullet? A bullet? A Ballet? An Ullet?
Sione Halisili There is not a great deal I can tell you about the Tongan born prop Sione, other than him playing for the Yokohama Canon Eagles & being billed as a prop yet with highlights all over YouTube of him playing in the back row. I do know, this man has an admirable commitment to the mullet cause in a society as formal as Japan. Brave Blossom, brave haircut.
This may not be the most prominent on the list, but it’s there and it’s something of a classic. Standing at 5 ft 7 inches the winger is small of stature but big in impact, much like this mullet seems to punch above it’s own weight. Hopefully he features heavily at this World Cup and we get a few better angles to admire.
As we reach the end of this 2000-word plus, deep dive into Rugby World Cup mullets, I’d begun to wonder, was it all really worth it?
A question answered more than ably by Jonathan Taumateine. Thank you for your service Mr Taumateine, Auckland born Samoan scrum-half, the rugby world owes you great debt for this magnificent display. I’ve been close to declaring a Rugby World Cup winning mullet more than once, but never closer than I am now.
Estaban inostroza say it again, say it loud! Estaban inostroza! What a haircut, you’ll be unsurprised this beast is a tighthead prop, lets hope he can manage looseheads like he does his curls. Vamos Esteban, Vamos!
So there we have it, a comprehensive guide to mullets of the rugby world cup 2023. If thirst for mullets still remains, then you can have a look through a selection from this years Six Nations.