Farewell to South Africa’s rugby captain

28 September 2015

South Africa’s rugby captain Jean de Villiers on Sunday announced his retirement from international rugby, following a jaw fracture he sustained in a Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Samoa on Saturday.

“When I got injured yesterday [26 September] and I left the field, I knew that I had played my last Test for South Africa,’ said De Villiers, who became the 54th Springbok captain when he was appointed by coach Heyneke Meyer in June 2012.

The 34-year-old De Villiers, who captained the Springboks 37 times, has retired as the second most capped Bok captain of all time, and is currently the fourth most capped player in the history of South African Test rugby, with 109.

“The last time I got injured in a World Cup match and had to go home, was in 2007, also against Samoa, and that finished well for the Boks, so hopefully it will happen again.

“I was quite sad on the one hand when I came off the field, as I knew I won’t get the opportunity to play for my country again. Having played for South Africa for 13 years, I’ve been fortunate to experience so many great things and I got to know so many good friends, but you never think it would end like this.”

He said he’ll be eternally grateful for the time he has worn the Springbok jersey. “I would like to wish the team all the very best and as a former Springbok, I’m now their number one supporter.”

Watch De Villiers chat about the match against Samoa:

Reaction

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula commended the Springbok captain for his efforts.

“He is one among many who put his body on the line for the victory and pride of this great nation,” Mbalula said in a statement.

“We salute him first as a patriot; when he was called upon to marshal our national team he did so even at great risk of his own health. Going to the World Cup he fought all his injuries, it is this fighting spirit that we saw on the field when he played.”

“Let’s all take a paragraph from the book of Jean de Villiers. The team must not see this as a setback but as an indicator to fight harder to win the World Cup,” the sports minister added.

Meyer said De Villiers will go down as one of the greatest Springboks of all time.

“Jean is a true ambassador for South Africa and a person everyone in our country can be immensely proud of,” he said.

“To see the emotions in the team room when he said his good byes to his team-mates made me realise how well-liked he is, by every person in this squad, but also most other people in the world-wide rugby fraternity.

“Jean enriched my life and I hold him in very high regard, as person and rugby player. Rugby will be poorer without Jean de Villiers.”

An announcement on the captaincy for the upcoming Rugby World Cup match against Scotland will be made later this week.

Source: News24 Wire and SAinfo reporter