Eddie Jones has questioned whether some of the Springboks’ more senior stars will be still performing at a high level by the time the 2023 Rugby World Cup comes around.
South Africa haven’t been unbeatable by any means this year, but they have performed at a consistently high level, having won their test series against the British and Irish Lions, while they finished 2021 on top of the World Rugby Rankings.
There have been very few changes in personnel to the team that won the World Cup two years ago however, with a number of players in the squad now approaching retirement age.
England head coach Jones was speaking on The Telegraph’s Full Contact podcast and questioned whether the Springboks’ age profile will hurt their chances at the next World Cup.
Eddie Jones on the Springboks’ age profile.
“Any team that wins a World Cup and a Lions series in the space of two years is a serious, serious team,” Jones said of South Africa.
“But if you look at their age profile, they are getting older. Whether those players can sustain for another two years to the World Cup is a question.
“You’ve got [Duane] Vermeulen who’s 35. He’ll be 37 going to the World Cup. You’ve got a few others in their 30s.”
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There have been very few personnel changes in their squad.
There have been very few personnel changes in the Springboks squad, as 10 of the players who started against England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final started against the same opposition last month in the Autumn Nations Series.
The starting line up would likely have been even more similar had it not been for injuries to a number of key players, such as Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
While it certainly isn’t unusual to see players who won the World Cup two years ago still playing at a high standard, the Springboks have blooded very few young players this year, with even the likes of the very talented Aphelele Fassi getting very little game time in 2021.
Jones, on the other hand, made blooding younger players a priority last month, as five players at the age of 23 or younger started in England’s win against the Springboks. In comparison, the youngest player to start for South Africa against England was 26-year-old Ox Nche.