Sergio Parisse has absolutely no right to be this good at his age
The future of former Italy captain and current Toulon No8 Sergio Parisse is still uncertain, but we have to start entertaining the possibility that the 142-cap international will still play forever.
Perhaps he is still harbouring hopes for that one final swansong for Italy after having his hopes consistently scuppered over the past couple of years, but he is still turning up and performing in the South of France.
His display in Toulon’s 25-16 victory over Saracens on Saturday at the Stade Mayol in the Challenge Cup semi final was a fine example of the level the 38-year-old is currently playing at.
‘RugbyCoach8 Ottavio Arenella’ shared Parisse’s highlights of his match against the three time Heineken Champions Cup winners, and there are plenty of glimpses of the Italian in his prime. He had a hand in both of Gabin Villiere’s tries, particularly his first, by taking the ball up the the line and committing Maro Itoje before a switch with his fly-half Louis Carbonel. Parisse has some of the best hands any forward has had in the history of the game, and that level of skill is not going to decline with age.
The video does show some of his errors too, especially dropped high balls, but they were outweighed by what he offered elsewhere on the field.
Parisse is certainly not the only player in his mid to late thirties that is still performing at the highest level. That same day, the 36-year-old Jonathan Sexton orchestrated a victory for Leinster over Toulouse, while Leicester Tigers signed the soon to be 39-year-old Jimmy Gopperth from Wasps last week.
Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick actually recently discussed how players are able to play on in the current game.
“Training methodology has improved. I see that generally. The strength and conditioning and medical side of things are improving every year. That gives the potential for players to maintain higher standards for longer,” Borthwick said.
“Then ultimately it comes down to the drive of the player. If they don’t have that drive, then they won’t be able to. But there is definitely the potential to continue to perform at a high level.
“I’d rather not put limits on it. If these guys have the desire to play, the desire to train hard and then play well, from my point of view, why put a limit on things?”