Premiership Stars Poised to Strengthen England’s 2027 World Cup Hopes

With the 2027 Rugby World Cup cycle now underway, England’s backroom staff are closely monitoring the qualification of several South African stars in the Premiership through the residency rule. BBC Sport takes a look at four individuals believed to be at the top of England’s recruitment list, including Hanro Liebenberg, Jacques Vermeulen, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, and Tyrone Green.
2WEWR9E Harlequins Tyrone Green tackles Leicester Tigers Hanro Liebenberg during the Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers, The Stoop, Twickenham, London UK on the 26th January 2024. Photo by Gary Mitchell Credit: Gary Mitchell, GMP Media/Alamy Live News

Premiership Talent Catching England’s Eye Ahead of 2027 Rugby World Cup

As the Premiership continues to feature a wealth of South African talent, England’s backroom staff are closely monitoring the qualification of these players for the national team through the residency rule.

With the 2027 Rugby World Cup cycle now underway, BBC Sport takes a look at four individuals believed to be at the top of England’s recruitment list.

Hanro Liebenberg (Leicester Tigers)

With Courtney Lawes now retired, England head coach Steve Borthwick has examined options such as Ethan Roots and Ollie Chessum to fill the blindside flanker role. However, Leicester Tigers’ Hanro Liebenberg, a centurion for the club, could be the ideal candidate to balance the England lineout and provide a physical presence at the breakdown, coupled with his powerful ball-carrying abilities from his time as a Junior Springbok.

Subject to administrative checks, Liebenberg is set to become available for England at the start of next season, potentially earning his first call-up for the end-of-year Tests where he may face his country of birth.

Jacques Vermeulen (Exeter Chiefs)

Another rangy flanker in the mould of Liebenberg, Jacques Vermeulen can cover all three back-row positions and even fill in at lock. Slightly more dynamic in his ball-carrying than Liebenberg, Vermeulen has been a crucial part of Exeter Chiefs’ forward pack and has impressed throughout the season.

Although a former Junior Springbok, Vermeulen has never received a senior call-up from South Africa. Like Liebenberg, he will be eligible for England later this year, subject to the same checks, and his wealth of experience could make him a valuable addition to the white shirt.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg (Bristol Bears)

Janse van Rensburg’s signing for Bristol Bears has been one of the standout moves of the season, with the centre’s simplicity and skill in midfield proving to be a key feature of the club’s success.

The burly South African, who can play across the backline, would provide England with much-needed quality and depth at 12 or 13, where they have been lacking in recent times. Having completed four years of residency, three of which were with London Irish, Janse van Rensburg will be eligible for the 2025/26 season, and England would be wise to consider his impressive talents.

Tyrone Green (Harlequins)

Widely regarded as the best fullback in the Premiership, Tyrone Green is keen to remain in the UK and press his claims for an England call-up. His ability to counter-attack and beat defenders with his brilliant footwork is unparalleled at this level, and he has the versatility to feature across the back three.

At 26, Green is the youngest of the four players mentioned, having represented South Africa at the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship. However, due to residency regulations, he will not be eligible for England until June 2025. This timeline could potentially see him gain international experience with the British and Irish Lions, where his versatility would be a valuable asset.

With the 2027 Rugby World Cup cycle underway, England’s backroom staff will be keeping a close eye on these South African talents as they look to bolster their squad with quality and depth ahead of the tournament.

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