How old will the World Champion Springboks be in 2027?

How old will the World Champion Springboks be in 2027?

The 2023 Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks showed a great balance between youth and experience at the tournament.

The Boks' squad was the oldest in France, fueling the argument that experience wins trophies. By contrast, Eddie Jones' fresh Wallabies - the youngest at the tournament - failed to make the quarters.

While the dust is still settling after the Boks' near-miraculous campaign in France, the preparation for the next global showpiece is undoubtedly already underway behind the scenes.

Here, SABC Sport takes a look at which of the RWC squad members could play in the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia, based on their age.

Put them on the plane Down Under

Assuming the World Cup will start in September, Canan Moodie will only be 23 when the next RWC rolls around and has already shown class beyond his years in the green and gold. Sniping scrumhalves Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse will be 31 and 27 respectively. Playmakers Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok and Kurt-Lee Arendse could just be hitting their straps at 29, 30 and 31.

The midfield combination of Jesse Kriel and the combative Andre Esterhuizen would have turned 33, as would have hot-stepper Cheslin Kolbe and the mercurial Handre Pollard. At 34, incumbent No.12 Damian de Allende and livewire Faf de Klerk may just make it, as playing in Japan has proven to extend players' lifespan.

In the forwards, who tend to be grizzly fellas in any case, Jasper Wiese will be 31 while Marco van Staden, cake-boss Ox Nche and RG Snyman will be 32. Superstar hooker Malcolm Marx, who just had major knee surgery, will be 33 while hardman Eben Etzebeth, tireless Kwagga Smith, Jean Kleyn and Marvin Orie all turn 34 before the tournament.

Touch and go

This is where things get tricky. The Boks showed that having greybeards in the lineup can be very beneficial. Stalwart Duane Vermeulen put in some stellar performances in France and no-one could have predicted fellow 37-year-old Deon Fourie playing 78 minutes of the Rugby World Cup final, captaining the side and making 24 tackles in an incredible effort. But only time will tell who, if anyone, can be used in such a fashion in 2027.

The relentless Pieter-Steph du Toit, fan favourite Steven Kitshoff and Franco Mostert will celebrate their 35th birthdays while inspirational captain Siya Kolisi will be 36 at the next edition, as will his vice-captain Bongi Mbonambi and the immovable Frans Malherbe.

Thank you for your services

Vermeulen and Fourie will be in their 40s when the Boks arrive in Australia, though we may see the former in the coaching box.

Cobus Reinach enjoyed a fantastic World Cup, but he and winger Makazole Mapimpi will be 37 come September 2027. Backline veteran Willie le Roux - who memorably celebrated the semi-final win over England like it was his last outing in a Springbok jersey - will turn 38. Front-row brothers-in-arms Vincent Koch and Trevor Nyakane will be 37 and 38 respectively.

The next 'next generation'

Outside the 2023 Bok RWC squad, the conveyor belt of local rugby is churning out young talent that could be in the mix in four years time.

21-year-old Sacha Feinburg-Mmgomezulu - who was included in the Bok squad for the 2022 Autumn Nations series tour - is a prodigious talent who continues to impress in the Stormers jersey.

A host of fresh players were included in the SA 'A' team to play against Muster last year. Former Junior Springbok Player of the Year Henco van Wyk starred at outside centre and is coming on in leaps and bounds with the Lions.

Joining van Wyk in that starting lineup was flyer Suleiman Hartzen, who was just 19 at the time. Prop Mtuthuko Mchunu and Sharks teammate Phepsi Buthelezi were also in coach Mzwandile Stick's starting XV while 22-year-old talented hooker Andre-Hugo Venter also featured.

Take into consideration that this piece ignores the plethora of players on the fringe of Springbok selection and it's easy to see that come 2027, Springbok management looks set to be spoiled for choice.

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