- 208 cmHeight
- 127 kgWeight
When Eddie Jones announced his first Wallaby squad of 2023 the name Richie Arnold was greeted with an almost inevitable response - do you think he means Rory? - in reference to Richie’s 32-capped identical twin. Jones didn’t, nor was it a typo, as Richie’s size, mobility and athleticism, aggression, mastery of the conquest phases and his technical accuracy had earned the big lock his first shot at international honours.
Raised in the northern New South Wales town of Murwillumbah, both brothers played junior rugby league until their mid-teens. Richie’s first rugby was quite social. He joined the Gentlemen of Murwillumbah’s and ran around with the aptly named “thirsty thirds”.
In 2015, Richie crossed the border to play for Bond University in the Premier Rugby competition. Later that same year Arnold earned a berth in the Queensland Country side for the National Rugby Championship before he signed to the Western Force’s wider training squad. Unfortunately, a succession of injuries - a fractured foot, a bulging disc and a shoulder reconstruction - saw him miss the 2016 season.
Rehabilitated, Richie made his Super Rugby debut for the Force in their 2017 round five away match to the Crusaders (L 17-45). He picked up a further six caps before a SANZAAR decision to reduce the number of sides from 18 to 15 led to the Force being axed from the competition. As a result, Richie moved east to join Rory at the Brumbies. Although Arnold’s game came along in leaps and bounds in Canberra, he struggled to become a permanent fixture in the match day squad given the teams’ impressive stable of forwards. Richie then travelled to Yokohama, Japan where he linked up with Yamaha Júbilo before an off-season opportunity presented itself in France with Stade Toulousain.
Arnold is said to have been “killing it” during his time at the powerhouse French club, where he has started in 80% of his 87 matches, alongside several stars of the global game - Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack. During his five years at Toulouse the club has won three Top 14 championships - 2019, 2021 and 2023, in a nail-biting 29-26 victory over Will Skelton’s La Rochelle.
Some years ago, Arnold’s Force coach Dave Wessels opined: “It’s great to have Richie on board. He has taken a little while to get his body right but there is a great Afrikaans saying which is ‘vroeg ryp vroeg vrot’ which is means ‘if you ripen early, then you rot early’, so we think Richie will be great for us.” Arnold’s selection in the 2023 Wallaby squad would suggest that Jones thinks likewise.