Matfied and co welcome England’s Nick Easter to World Cup senior service

 

vicIreland coach Joe Schmidt has already cracked a joke about zimmer frames being discarded at Rugby World Cup 2015 in response to the profusion of golden oldies taking part.

The arrival of England’s Nick Easter as a replacement for the injured Billy Vunipola on Monday means there are now 21 players aged 35 and over at the tournament, vastly outnumbering the tally of those relative babies who are still short of their 21st birthday.

Schmidt has two 35-year-olds in his squad: Paul O’Connell, competing at his fourth World Cup, and Mike Ross.

South Africa’s Victor Matfield, 38, is the oldest player at England 2015 and if the Springboks reach the semi-finals he would become the second-oldest in World Cup history, behind Diego Ormaechea who turned out for Uruguay aged 40 in 1999.

Easter, a year younger than Matfield (pictured), is the fifth-oldest player at this World Cup and England’s third oldest to feature at any. Simon Shaw, who was 38 at the time of their 2011 campaign, holds the latter record.

Two other illustrious veterans, Italy’s Mauro Bergamasco, 36, and Ovidiu Tonita of Romania, 35, joined Samoan icon Brian Lima as the only players to feature in five World Cup squads with their selection this time round. Both have made a contribution for their respective teams on the field.

In contrast, Georgia’s Vasil Lobzhanidze became the youngest player to play at a World Cup with his appearance in his side’s opening match against Tonga. Lobzhanidze, who will not be 19 until 14 October, is one of eight players at the tournament yet to reach 21.

As far as RWC 2015 is concerned, old age is all the rage.

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