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The question mark hanging over South Africa's RWC2023 title defence

By Rugby365
Damian de Allende, Handre Pollard and Frans Steyn celebrate South Africa's World Cup final victory (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has suggested there’s a significant question mark hanging over the Springboks 2023 Rugby World Cup title defence.


Speaking to former England hooker Brian Moore on his Full Contact Podcast, Jones opens up on the 2019 World Cup campaign and explains why he is the man to blame for England’s defeat to South Africa in Japan.

He also takes us back to 2015 and the period when he took over and the task that awaited him upon his arrival.

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Elsewhere Jones admits that he can, at times, be too demanding of his coaching staff which has caused many bust-ups over the years and he explains the important role that women are playing in the current England setup.

We also hear his thoughts on the recent year-end Tests and in particular flyhalf Marcus Smith, who announced himself at test level with some assured performances against Australia and the Springboks.

However, it was addressing the loss to the Springboks in the 2019 World Cup and looking forward to the 2023 tournament that he dropped a bomb about the ageing Bok team.

Jones, who was a member of Jake White’s Springbok backroom staff when they won the World Cup in 2007, hinted that some of South Africa’s key players might be tough past their prime at France 2023.


The wily England mentor said pointed to the 2019 World Cup win and the two-one series win over the British and Irish Lions as evidence that they are a “very serious” team.

* Listen from 39 minutes 30 seconds to hear Jones’ view on the Boks:

However, there was a big rider to his comment.


“If you look at their age profile, they are getting older,” Jones said.

“Whether those players can sustain [their form] for another two years – to the World Cup – is a question.

“You have Duane Vermeulen, who is 35. He will be 37 going into the World Cup.

“There are a few others in their 30s.

“They do have a lot of good players coming through.”

Jones’ statement certainly holds some water.

The age profile of the team that lost 26-27 to England last month shows exactly how close they are to being past their ‘sell-by’ date.

South Africa with current age in brackets
15 Willie le Roux 32
14 Jesse Kriel 27
13 Lukhanyo Am 28
12 Damian de Allende 30
11 Makazole Mapimpi 31
10 Handré Pollard 27
9 Cobus Reinach 31
8 Duane Vermeulen 35
7 Albertus Smith 28
6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain) 30
5 Lodewyk de Jager 28
4 Eben Etzebeth 30
3 Trevor Nyakane 32
2 Mbongeni Mbonambi 30
1 Retshegofaditswe Nché 26
16 Malcolm Marx 27
17 Steven Kitshoff 29
18 Vincent Koch 31
19 Franco Mostert 31
20 Jasper Wiese 26
21 Herschel Jantjies 25
22 Elton Jantjies 31
23 Frans Steyn 34

Injured players
Cheslin Kolbe 28
Francois de Klerk 30
Pieter-Steph du Toit 29
Rudolph Snyman 26
Frans Malherbe 30


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