Soon-to-retire Francois Louw believes rugby will increasingly become a younger man’s game due to the ferocity of its collisions. 

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The World Cup-winning South African back row revealed last week that the end of the current Gallagher Premiership season at Bath would bring the curtain down on his stellar career as he turns 35 in June.   

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It’s a birthday he reckons fewer and fewer players will celebrate while still playing at the highest level – Louw is bowing out with 76 international caps for South Africa under his belt, his last coming at the recent World Cup in Japan. 

Speaking in a telegraph.co.uk interview, Louw said: “I don’t think guys are going to play until 35 any more. I cannot see that happening.

“You have an 18.5 stone player running into an 18.5 stone player. We can all preach the beautiful game, but those two guys are trying to kill each other. They have to, because it’s a professional game and you get paid to win.”

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Louw feels blessed that he has managed to keep playing until his mid-30s. There were fears when he was facing neck surgery at the age of 29 that he could be finished as a hit had left him with pins and needles running down an arm. 

“I remember we went into the hospital and they pulled the wheelchair out for my wife, and she said, ‘It’s not for me, he’s having a neck op’. 

“We have seen some sad injuries in the Premiership, with Rob Horne and Michael Fatialofa, freak accidents, but it’s also the reality of the game.”

Following retirement, Louw will be looking to transfer his turnover exploits on the rugby field to that of a different kind in the finance industry, as he is now a qualified financial advisor with the London Institute of Banking and Finance.

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