Super Rugby: Just a number

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 10:42
Large damian willemse v bulls 2018 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Esportif Intelligence has compiled and released the average ages of every starting position for New Zealand, Australian and South African Super Rugby sides.

Loose head prop is on average the oldest position for New Zealand and Australian teams at 29, while scrumhalf is the oldest position for South African teams, also at 29.

For South African and New Zealand sides, the youngest position is outside centre with average ages of 22 and 23 respectively, followed by flyhalf at 24.

Blindside flank is the youngest position for Australian teams at 23.

Individually, the youngest players to appear from each country this season are Stormers’ flyhalf Damian Willemse (South Africa, 19 – also Super Rugby’s youngest points scorer this year), Chiefs’ flyhalf Tiaan Falcon (New Zealand, 20) and Jaguares’ flank Marcos Kremer (Argentina, 20 – also youngest international to play this year.)

Hulking 19-year-old Brumbies back row Rob Valetini is the youngest Australian and youngest player in the competition. His teammate, Josh Mann-Rea, is the competition’s oldest at 37 – nearly twice Valetini’s age. After scoring a try in the Brumbies’ season opener, Mann-Rea is also the competition’s oldest point scorer.

Hurricanes prop Ben May is New Zealand’s oldest player at 35, with Leonardo Senatore (Argentina) and Keegan Daniel (South Africa) not far behind for their respective countries at 33 and 32.

Excluding departing and retiring All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Wyatt Crockett, Blues midfielder Sonny Bill Williams is the oldest All Black at 32, and the tenth oldest player in the competition.

Looking back ten years ago to the 2008 Super Rugby season, a 17-year-old James O’Connor was the competition’s youngest player, and four 18-year-olds were also in the mix. 19-year-old Zac Guildford was New Zealand’s youngest.

Former Lions coach Johan Ackermann was the oldest player in 2008 at 37 years old.

The youngest starting XV in 2008 had an average age of 25 – two years older than 2018’s youngest, while the oldest averaged out at 27 – one year younger than 2018’s oldest.

By Colin Brooke, Rugbypass