Should age of players be a consideration in team selection and what is the impact of performances on such selection

Forum » Rugby » Should age of players be a consideration in team selection and what is the impact of performances on such selection

Apr 17, 2021, 10:53

Jean de Villiers told a story than when Gainsford  visited the family he found the De Villiers brothers kicking balls in the garden and asked the two of us what we want to do in future as to  sports we said rugby.    His answer was  that then we must practice  what real rugby means  and mot  waste time with kicking.    However the  comments of  De Villiers on aging of players are in the  case of this thread are more pertinent,      De Villiers mentioned  that at the age of 31 he had to train twice as hard than was necessary when he was 29 years olf.    

On  this site the issue of elderly players in team and individual sporting codes and basically those were in the main three  points of  view  and  those  are –

*     that experience is all that count in team selection and that performance is not of any consequence at all and that the older players are the better they perform;

*      that performance  is all that count  and age has nothing to do with the issue of selection of players provided they follow the advice of De Villiers in that regard is applied by athletes; and

*      the  opinion  that players over 30 years of age should automatically be replaced by younger players  who are better  than the aging players over 30.

Experience over the years in all codes of sport indicate that the second opinion is the one that should be the one applied in all cases.       

The age factor has had some serious implications in performance of teams and  individuals  in all codes of sport.    So lets look at some examples where aging players without performance requirements  self-destruct  in rugby, in cricket and in tennis  - the latter two codes being of particular importance in this case.


The  issue  if selection of aging became an issue when Meyer started to persuade retired  players to return to play for the Springboks with total disregard for performances – who when questioned on the issue made the classical remark that he knew about  the capabilities of players proved by them in the past  and that present performances has nothing to do with selection – the so-called  Meyer doctrine.               

The Meyer doctrine resulted in a total disregard of any team renewal program.    By 2015 the  program was a disaster that was the start of the destruction of Springbok rugby and became the norm  under Coetzee.     The coaching of  Meyer and Coetzee  both ended in a disaster for the  teams they coached and both were effectively fired by SARU,    However, it was not only their SA Coaching that ended in their firing by SARU  - both Coetzee and  Meyer were subsequently fired by the clubs where they coached for being totally incompetent and part of their problem was the Meyer doctrine.           

The matter can best be illustrated by two 38 year-old players in the 2015 and 2019 WC squads  – namely Matfeld in 2015 and Brits in 2019.   After returning from retirement In 2014 on the encouragement of Meyer – Matfield was a total disaster and liability  for the  teams he played ion – the Bulls and the Springboks in 2014 and 2015 since he was never really match fit and and enver ecn tried to be.    He was for instance one of the architects of the Japan disaster in the 2015 WC,    Brits was te exact opposite.    He was primarily be selected to deal with development of team spirit in the team  and only used in two matches – in the 2019 against minions and in one where hew as catain he scored a try.     His selection by Erasmus was based on the De Villiers advice n player slection anyway,

However, the Meyer doctrine has been disregarded by Erasmus and the second approach utlined above became the norm in Springbok selection.  


By 2019 the Proteas team became  a disaster and the performances in the 2019 WC was the worst ever since re-admission  to  international cricket in 1992.    The main problem was that team renewal was extremely limited and only applied when older players either retired or retired and performances of players became so desperately  that the selectors were forced into replacing them,  

Some players  like Amla and Steyn  announced their retirement from cricket  and after firing of the coach  in 2019 after constant losses in international  series  and he was replaced  by Boucher.    The problem of team renewal became pertinent  and even though most supporters felt that Boucher was the right man for the job – but he  is now the same level of incompetence as his predecessor was.

In fact was that Boucher was much worse than his predecessor was.    His norm for teams election  was even a worse application of the Meyer doctrine and  he effectively laid down a minimum age of 28 for selection of the squad.    The younger players that was selected by coaches before he became coach were retained  - eg  Rabada, Ngidi, De Kock and Markram was retained by him and on this site the latter two were under constant attack by some members.    

What was worse is that Boucjer regard the fact that existing players “own” there positions in the team  and that they cannot be replaced even if they fail miserably in game after game,   A typical example is Phehlukwayo, but the list of elderly and incompetent present “owners” turned the Protea  team  into the disaster area  they are now.    However, the cock-eyed approach of Boucher found support on this site by the same site members  who supported the Meyer doctrine.


There can be no doubt that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were the greatest rtennis players ever.   So lets briefly look at what happened recently in their cases:-

*     The now 41 year-old  Federer after an injury in the Aussie Open  in 2020 played no tennis for a year.     He intended to use the Doha and  Dubai series this year to make his return to playing competitive tennis  - but was disgraced by nonentities and he left the scene and did not participate in the Dubai series at all.   He declared that he will work towards perfecting his game on grass leading up to Wimbledon  Grand  Slam.   In his case it is clear that he should rather retire  from the professional game and that further participation may  damage his great reputation.

*       Nadal  used  the  Covid 19 issue to reduce drastically the Championship tournaments in 2020, especially since his number 2 ranking was protected by new rules applicable to the ranking system introduced as a result of Covid 19 in 2020.     The players would lose no points if they missed out on tournaments in 2020 and not lose the points they got in such tournaments  in 2019.  This was recne4tly ultered to reduction of 30% of points earned previously – but still provide a false picture of ther eal situation based on present performances – it in particular favour Federer, Nadala nd Djokovic.     Some critics claim there is no ranking system at all in place.  Back to Nadal  though – after twining the French Grand Slam tournament  in 2020 he never played in tennis tournaments until the Paris Master tournament in late October 2020.   He was not successful and got nowhere in the final.    Nadal then played in the  2020 Player Championships in 2020 – but did not get firther than the semi  after being beaten by  both Thiem  and  Medvedev.   Thatw as followed by absemnce from competitive tennis until the Aussie Open where he never reached the semi’s.    He then went into non-participation until the Monte Carlo masters – where he was the champion nine times and r missing playing in the semi’s only twice in the 16 years he played in.    He was dismantled by Rublev yesterday and probably got the worst beating he ever experienced in his professional career – the best example of lack of match fitness being the case here.


Djokovic  followed the same route followed by  Nadal in 2020 and made a return to tournaments  in the Vienna tournament in October 2020 – where he was disgraced by a player by the name of Sonego  and then went into the Championship in London  - where eh lost badly to Medvedev and surrendered against Thiem.    However – unlike Nadal he did play in the World Cup series in Australia and gained valuable match  fitness, which benefited him in the Aussie Grand Slam.    After winning in that tournament  Djokovic did not play in any tournaments until the Monte Carlo Masters.   His performance was iffy in Round 2 against the 19 year-old  Sinner and a disgraceful in the second match against of all players  Evans,   


Age is indeed a factor in team and player selection  if the athletes concerned  failed  to ensure that they need to maintain match fitness in games and more importantly they fail to  maintain fitness levels supporting adequate performances,      

However,  age on its own should not be a  factor in team selection  -  performances are.         


Apr 18, 2021, 00:50

But what would Gainsford’s mother have said?

Apr 18, 2021, 01:39

Apr 17, 2021, 10:53

Jean de Villiers Villiers mentioned  that at the age of 31 he had to train twice as hard than was necessary when he was 29 years olf.    


So if his "younger" teammates, like 29-year-olds train 8 hours per day, then Devilliers trained for 16 hours?
He does not mean it literally - it is standard sportsmen talk of giving 100%. 

Apr 18, 2021, 01:41

Schalk Britz played in the 2019 World Cup, long after Meyer. He was solid, and did not look out of place- as the third choice hooker. 

Matfield won man of the match a few times in 2014 and was in great form. He did however get overplayed by the Bulls and picked up some niggly injuries and his form dipped in 2015. 

Duane Vermeulen shows that age is irrelevant if the next best player is not better than what he is.
A younger Vermuelen, or preferably a middle-aged Vermeulen is better than an older Vermeulen, but that does not mean that any younger player is better than an older Vermuelen.
For example, replacing Vermuelen with one of the Dupreez Twins would not be an improvement. 

 A bench player needs to outperform the starting player to take the spot. 
While there are statistical averages about the decline in performances by age, selection needs to take into context what the next best players are - instead of falling into the trap of generalisations. 

Age itself is also not the only factor in physical performance. Some players have bodies that can last longer in the demands of top level rugby. 

Ageism, also spelled agism, is stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against seniors, and patterned on sexism and racism.

Ageism - Wikipedia

Apr 18, 2021, 05:09

The ABs have this right ...Ben Smith was the incumbent until a younger player proved consistently that he was the better choice. They understand bringing in a marginally better player may not actually improve the team because it disrupts patterns and mutual understanding.

Also form in provincial matches may not be sustained at test level....and even form at test level may not be sustained in WC knockouts.

Great players, like Vermeulen have another gear in huge games. Judging them on ‘performance’ in a Super match misses point.

Apr 18, 2021, 07:18

That is right, each player (what ever age) must be assessed on individual ability. Some last longer than others and have both physical ability coupled with their invaluable experience through the hard knock school and that is a fact. Players are individuals and cannot be stereotyped. Vermeulen is an example as he has vast experience and ability. Others his age are burning out.

A good squad should be balanced with younger performing players and experienced...there cannot be hard and fast formulas...the choice of players must compliment each other as a team. Yes experience (up to a point) is very valuable in the bigger arenas but current performance in lesser games must pass the test as well. This is the skill of a good selector/coach. There is no hard and fast rule for this. 

Apr 18, 2021, 08:41

I think Mozart got it totally wrong again.    The argument is effectively that  age is NOT a factor - performances are,     As long as players perform they should  NOT be dropped from the team.

The fact is that adequate performances should be the norm and when players are not performing they should be replaced irrespective if their age,    

I dealt quite  substantially with tennis and in particular referred to Djokovic and Nadal - giving examples of them skipping tournament for two months or even more and then  give examples about what happened to them from a match fitness  perspective on their return to tournaments  because they are NOT match-fit or even lost because of execution lapses,       .

The same in fact applies to all  codes of  sport.   See where the age rubbish land SA cricket in - they are going downwards in the rankings faster and faster.               

Apr 18, 2021, 16:15

Djokovich and Nadal follow the Vermeulen rule.....they aim to peak when it counts. ‘Performance’ is not a constant for veterans, like it or not performance varies depending on the importance of the game. 

Real rugby men understand that. Hell even Erasmus knew Vermeulen was crucial all the while you were telling us he was past it Tokkie.

Apr 18, 2021, 18:09

I never told anybody that ever,    The only thing I ever  mentioned  was about him, skipping the  RC tests and the first November test in 2018,   

Djokovic and Nadal targetted the Monte Carlo Masters for  their return to tennis after the Aussie Open and they looked like  they did not know the game anymore,  .   The way they lost  in he Monte Carlo series was  a disgrace.   They were not matchfit at all - so now Djokovic is playing next week in an APT 250  series in Belgrade while  the main focus will be on the Barcelona APT 500 series,   Hope he gets some form back and same with Nadal.    However - the problem is a repeat of what happened last year and  the results were the same with both of them,   If the original ranking system was still used  the two would not be ranked in the Top 20 players at present and Federer would  be the 641 player in ranking.    The present ranking system is in fact called no system at all and based on player insistence the PTA has now decided that the old system for rankings be re-introduced as from August 2021.      

How many times do I have to tell you that  age is not a factor when it comes to selection of players - proven performances are,    That is why the bringing back of retired players by Meyer was a total disaster - they would not be matchfit and would never became so.    Age  becomes  a serious problem if  performances have gone out of the window  and age remains as a norm.   ,    ,          


Apr 18, 2021, 18:57

A past his own best Vermuelen was still good enough to win man of the match in the 2019 World Cup Final. 
World-class players past their best can still be the best player in their position.  

Replacing Vermuelen with one of the Creatine Twins who are in their prime, would be a downgrade. They are not Springbok greats and have no chance of being international greats that could make a World XV.
Those players are as rare as hen's teeth. 

Rudolf Strauli would have selected the Deysel twins instead of Vermuelen.

Apr 19, 2021, 00:27

Mike you went after Vermeulen is just one nasty example:

Coming back on Tuesday into full training raised a serious question mark about the seriousness of injury on Saturday,    I think it may be that Vermeulen did not put in a credible performance and saw a way out of completing the game.   An injury like he pretended he suffered would have kept any player out for weeks if not months  and the fact is it did not in this case.   We know for a fact that Matfield used the same stunt in the 2015  Super Rugby Season to keep his name in the headlines so as to ensure his selection for the  WC squad in 2015,   Is that what Vermeulen is up to now?.  

Apr 19, 2021, 06:34

That was in 2018 - when he ducked out of the squad to go and play in Japan,    I never criticized  Vermeulen on any other  issue in 2019,    But this item is not concentrated  to an exception to the rule in Vermeulen anyway, but on the issues of  -

*    bringing back  retired  players into the Springbok squad like your ideal coach Meyer did; and totally disregarded performance of players in selection allowing for selection players who played zero rugby for more than 2 years on any level and players who did not play any rugby for up to 18 months on the basis of injury;    

*    laying down minimum ages  for player selection for the Proteas team in practice at present  without any regard to maximum ages and  a total disregard for performance  of senior players who "own" the positions they occupy in the team; and

*    the idiocy to rank players who decide to play minimal matches and then give them an easy route to the play-off  stages of tournaments like happened in the cases of Nadal and Djokovic in 2020 and 2021.

The total issue dealt with is the fact that reputation and not actual performance becomes the key in selection and  that in turn  makes age part of the norm for selection - which it should never be.             

Apr 19, 2021, 14:53

‘That was in 2018’....oh dear....I guess I better give you the whole post. Note the date:

Mar 26, 2019, 12:04

Vermeulen came back with huge fanfare to play for the Springboks in June 2018.   He did extremely well in the first two tests,   At the end of the second test he complained about some aches and pains and then produced nothing in the third test,   

He then said he was going to play in Japan and would not be available for the Rugby Championship in August to Ocotber 2018 and came back to play in three of the EOYT tests,   In those tests he was very average in performance - nothing much to write home about.  

It was then announced that he would play for the Bulls in the 2019 season.   In the first two matches he was very good and that was followed by two very average performances.   In the fifth game he went off injured after showing zilch performance-wise,   

Now there was the following report on his injury:-

"The Bulls have been boosted by the news that Duane Vermeulen is available for Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Durban.

The Springbok No 8 left the field in the first half of his side's 56-20 loss to the Chiefs at Loftus this past weekend and Bulls fans would have been dreading Monday's injury report. 

But, according to team doctor Herman Rossouw, Vermeulen is fine. 

"Duane left the field early in the first-half with a badly twisted knee," Rossouw explained.

"Luckily this morning he is looking much better and he is already going to start training with the squad. He will be available for selection."

The news on prop Dayan van der Westhuizen, meanwhile, is less encouraging.

"His knee is not looking that good. He went for a scan this morning and we are awaiting the final results," Rossouw said. 

Johnny Kotze is expected to be available for selection for this weekend while lock RG Snyman faces another week out and should be back for the April 6 fixture against the Jaguares at Loftus. 

Kick-off in Durban on Saturday is at 15:05."

Coming back on Tuesday into full training raised a serious question mark about the seriousness of injury on Saturday,    I think it may be that Vermeulen did not put in a credible performance and saw a way out of completing the game.   An injury like he pretended he suffered would have kept any player out for weeks if not months  and the fact is it did not in this case.   We know for a fact that Matfield used the same stunt in the 2015  Super Rugby Season to keep his name in the headlines so as to ensure his selection for the  WC squad in 2015,   Is that what Vermeulen is up to now?.  

Apr 19, 2021, 15:09

Listen Mozart

Can you read anything logically - what I refer to in that posting was iro of 2018  and that was long before any tests were played in 2019.     Are you so befuddled that you do not realize that.   Actually what I wrote in this thread is about international rugby -  and I sked a question about the issue in the Chiefs  game about a stunt the useless Matfield used in Super Rugby in 2015 and asked whether Vermeulen is copying it - a really proper question.   .

Anyway this is the BS spouted by you - where I clearly said  age is not a norm for selection -  performance  is what counts.    It is trying to divert  discussion away from that point and dilute it to the BS you wrote in the past and are still spouting on the cricket department of this site, 

I for instance asked you how superb  the performance of Klaasen was after 2 good batting innings and 9 batting failures against Pakistan this year and you wrote he is superb.   Please explain that one.      

Apr 19, 2021, 15:29

You basically said in 2019....that Vermeulen was so bad he was ducking games to avoid looking bad.....about as insulting as you could be. Then Vermeulen proved at the WC he could still lift to a dominating performance in the biggest games.

And having been caught, you try to change the subject.

The same old drill.

Apr 19, 2021, 17:36


What I said is basically clear to anybody - but is used by you in a way that is  clearly junk _ I was not caught out in anything - you were/ and are trying to run away for the constant garbage you wrote on site.    You start a diversion with Vermeuken despite the fact that he was selected based on performance and justified that in the WC - strictly in line with what I wrote about performance being the norms of selection  and that age is NOT and became only pertinent when fools like Meyer and you made  reputation and age  the only criterion for selection and totally ignore performance.   

Normal with you - and how was Klaaasen superb?        

Apr 19, 2021, 20:53

Your problem in life is you don’t have any sense and like a typical nors old Boer you have no humour. Let alone a sense of humour.

Apr 19, 2021, 21:08


Apr 21, 2021, 14:28

The drive for youth failed until a next gen core could establish itself. Damian was never better than Jean. Kriel was never better than Fourie. Steph and Lood were never better than Victor. The list goes on and on. Flavour of the day selections then become the norm. We went four years from in the dark days without fielding the same consecutive team even once. As much as I critique Erasmus, at least he understood this, and stuck to that core, even if some of them weren't good. There was some level of consistency. Sharky basically said it best above. The key Boks in the WC were lambasted by many here, often for years. Without Beast, Thor, Louw, we don't win that WC. 

Apr 21, 2021, 16:22

Who says you have to be a gym monkey 

STW 2014/15 Rugby Thread | Singletrack Magazine Forum

This fat Andy Goode, slotting kicks, breaking tackles, tackling and scoring tries at 35 and over weight. Didn't even bother with the pre-season training. 

This just proves that form is temporary but class is forever

Apr 21, 2021, 16:26

Apr 21, 2021, 16:59

99% of all scientists agree, Klaasens is superb

Apr 21, 2021, 17:27

"The key Boks in the WC were lambasted by many here, often for years. Without Beast, Thor, Louw, we don't win that WC. "

Like PSDT, De Alende, Am, Malherbe, Faf and Pollard...MPimpy and Kolbe...the coin has two sides...and can even land on it's edge on rare occasions. It was a team effort and the whole squad and suplorting staff was part of that team.

Apr 21, 2021, 18:07

No it wasn't. Damian was nothing, Kolisi was nothing, Steph was nothing. Faf is tough and nuggety, but a fundamentally flawed player - he has a poor pass and very wonky kicking game. 

Apr 21, 2021, 19:56

...that pesky business of winning a RWC can't do it fielding too many passengers...if any at all...the team as a whole, including the coaching staff, was way better than being given credit for. 2019 was less of a fluke than 2007...anybody distracting of the truely remarkable achievement is...pardon my ""French"...full of sh!t!!!...not to be taken seriously.

Apr 21, 2021, 20:02

We needed 15 players on the field. Dud Toit, Dud Allende, Kolisi  helped fulfill that function...little more that couldn’t have been done by other players. The unique contributions came from Pollard, Faf, the Beast, Malherbe actually, Etzebeth....the one name nobody mentions but without whom we aren’t WC winners and Vermeulen.

Apr 21, 2021, 20:11

No  Mozart wrong as always.    De Allende  was a key to the backline functioning of the backline and played a massive role in the final.    Then there is the World Player of the Year  you called filling up the team.

You should start looking at games objectively and stop writing BS on site.   

Apr 22, 2021, 01:40

Ah the thanks, the hype doesn’t standup to scrutiny.

Apr 22, 2021, 02:01

2019 was a lesser achievement than 2007. Easier opposition. That's an indisputable fact. You don't need a team of super stars to win a WC. Every team has passengers, lesser talent that is carried by the core of integral players. Steph was a non-entity, so too Lood, Kolisi, Damian. They were carried. Plain and simple. They had one team who could take them on up front, and they lost that battle. Who were the faces at the scene of the key moments where NZ won? The usual names pop up. 

Apr 22, 2021, 05:28

The 2007 final can never be compared  to the perfection in performances of 2019 achieved by the Springboks,,    In every aspect of play the  2019 performance were better than in 2007  and that relates to  issues  like - 

*    better scrumming with the Springbok scrumming in 2019 being the best  ever in WC's by any team;

*     better lineout performance with the Springboks losing only 1 line-out on own throw-in during tall matches played in the WC,

*     massively improved ball protection and recovery at break- downs - which in 2007 was poor a a result of absence and loss of balls at breakdowns;

*     better  ball skills displayed by all forwards than the case was in 2007;

*     better backline attacks  in which forwards were also involved with the backline haviong better ball skills than they were capable of  in 2007;

*      total domination  in defense with all players - forwards and backliners - in defense, withs serious backline defense   deficiencies  being in evidence:

*      the try-scoring data in 2007 indicated less tries scored  in the 2007 series and miore tries given away by the Springboks in 2007 than they did in 2019;

*       better kicking and follow-up of kicks in 2019 than the case was on 2007; and 

*       in 2007  minor teams like Tonga and Fiji had the Springboks under serious  pressure in matches - something which was never the case in 2019.

*       the much easier route to the final in 2007 than in 2019 - eg the 2007 team never came up against the AB's  and Aussies.

The players you single out as passengers were massively better than their 2007 counterparts were in all facets of play.   Fact is the players you mentioned were real contriubutors to the Springbok performances in 2019 compared to every other WC and better in both defense and attack.      The AB's won because of two defensive lapses by MOSTERT and  MAPIMPI and the forwards had upper hand in most  phases of play in the AB test,    Mostert was dropoed from the starting line-up  because of his total inability to be secure in open field  defense  that was the fact of the matter,

It is amazing how stupid you are iro rugby performances  - experts throughout the world  rate the players you describe as passengers to be the key components to the brilliant team of 2019/ n   But then we know you rate the two major contributors to Springbok rugby decline - Meyer and Coetzee as better coaches than Erasmus - and that shows your total ignorance iro rugby,   You thoroughly deserve the nickname  Kindergarten Imbecile I gave you.

It is hard for imbeciles like you to even understand what this thread is really about anyway,   





Apr 22, 2021, 05:29


You must be careful - you are not far behind the Kindergarten Imbecile in spreading BS on site.  

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