After captaining South Africa 37 times, Springboks captain Jean de Villiers has announced his retirement from international rugby, although not the way he would have preferred.
De Villiers made the decision after being ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup with a fractured jaw.
The 34-year-old center sustained the injury during his side’s 46-6 win over Samoa last Saturday and hangs his boots after clocking 109 appearances for his country, making him the fourth most-capped player in the history of South African Test rugby.
“Rugby will be poorer without Jean,” said coach Heyneke Meyer. “He is a true ambassador for South Africa.”
De Villiers who plays for Stormers in the Super Rugby said he knew as soon as he left the field on Saturday that he had played his last Test.
He added: “Injuries are part of rugby and I’ve had my fair share, so by now I know how to cope with them. It’s very sad, but life goes on.”
De Villiers said he would be “eternally grateful” for the time he had as a South Africa player.
“I would like to wish the team all the very best,” he added. “I’m now their number one supporter.
“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.”
South Africa won the 2007 World Cup by beating England 15-6.
Springboks coach Meyer, who has called up Jan Serfontein to replace De Villiers, said: “Jean is a true ambassador for South Africa and a person everyone in our country can be immensely proud of.
“He will go down as one of the greatest Springboks ever and, in my eyes, he is probably one of the best captains in the history of world rugby, who always put the team first and gave his time for any player, young or old without ever changing who he is.
“Jean enriched my life and I hold him in very high regard, as person and rugby player.”
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