(VIDEO) Jean de Villiers tribute: A cruel ending to a glittering career

Farewell to the intercept prince: Jean de Villiers on his way to scoring an intercept try from a Daniel Carter-attempted pass, in the Springboks' 32-29 Tri-Nations win against the All Blacks in Hamilton, New Zealand. With the win, the Boks also comfortably secured the 2009 Tri-Nations title.

The iconic inside centre, who once said he had been to two previous World Cups but spent only two nights in the team hotel, suffered the ill-timed injury in the Boks’ Pool B match against Samoa – abruptly closing the curtain on his third and final World Cup.

And with it, his illustrious career.

The 109 test-capped de Villiers subsequently announced his retirement from the international game on Sunday, September 27.

“When I was injured yesterday and I left the field, I knew that I had played my last test for South Africa,” said de Villiers, who captained the Boks on 37 occasions.

“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 – I need to take it all in and move forward.

“The last time I was 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 will end like this.


“It has happened now and I’ll be eternally grateful for the time I’ve had in the Springbok jersey. I would like to wish the team all the very best and, as a former Springbok, I’m now their No 1 supporter.

“They still have a massive game this weekend, and I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, but rather to focus on the task at hand against Scotland.

“In Heyneke they have a wonderful coach who knows what it takes to succeed, and who has given me the opportunity to lead my country for the last four years. I will be eternally grateful to him.”

The iconic No 12, who made his test debut in 2002, but lasted for only seven minutes because of a serious knee injury, missed the 2003 World Cup in Australia, having suffered a shoulder injury, and again missed the 2007 jamboree in France, courtesy of a nastily-timed bicep injury in the opening pool game.

He stayed with the team, however, and also received a winner’s medal.

Four years ago, in New Zealand, he injured a rib in the first game and returned for the last pool encounter before playing in the quarter-final loss to Australia.

Jean de Villiers honours

  • Became 54th Springbok captain when he was appointed by Meyer in June 2012
  • Scored 27 Springbok tries
  • Most capped Springbok centre (94)
  • Most tests as Bok centre combination with Jacques Fourie (29)
  • World Cup champion (2007)
  • British and Irish Lions Tour winner (2009)
  • SA Rugby Player of the Year (2008 and 2013)
  • Players’ Player of the Year (2008)
  • Vodacom Super 14 Player of Year nominee (2008)
  • SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2005)
  • Tri-Nations winner (2004 and 2009)




Sabelo Mashego
Sports Journalist

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