Squad continuity (File)
London - Amid the abject disapointment of losing to New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup 2015 semi-final, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer could still speak glowingly about the team's future.
According to the World Rugby website, Meyer said he would expect a large number of his 2015 players to still be representing the Springboks in Japan 2019, even if he is no longer leading them.
"Eighty or ninety percent of them can be in the next Rugby World Cup," he said before reeling off the names of the early 20-somethings in his starting XV for the All Blacks match.
"They can be one of the best teams going forward (from RWC 2015). That makes me really excited for the future of rugby in South Africa."
At RWC 2015 Meyer named two of South Africa's youngest starting XVs since RWC 2007, but excited about the future or not, his figures certainly seemed a little high, if not unrealistic.
If you take all four RWC 2015 semi-finalists since 2007, and look at their continuity percentages from one RWC squad to the next over the last two cycles, the highest is 56%.
That 56% was South Africa, when 18 players from the title-winning campaign of 2007 played again four years later in 2011.
However, Meyer's stated percentages would require 25-28 of the RWC 2015 31-man squad to play again in 2019, and that is unlikely to happen, given that 13 of the 31 players who have played in 2015 are already more than 30-years-old.
Even if every playing member of South Africa's 2015 squad below 30 played again in four years' time in Japan, that would still give a continuity percentage of only 58%, which although high, would be well short of Meyer's forecast.
Meyer's prediction of 80-90 percent of the 2015 players appearing again in Japan in 2019 would seem, therefore, more a reflection of his proud excitement about the strong future of Springbok rugby than the likely continuity percentage.