As news broke that South Africa captain Jean de Villiers retired from international rugby following a broken jaw in the Rugby World Cup, the rugby world took to Twitter to pay their tributes.
— Butch James (@butch_james) September 27, 2015
Congratulations to Jean De Villiers on an exceptional international career . A good leader and a great bloke ! Salute !!
— Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) September 27, 2015
After 109 Tests for the Springboks, Jean de Villiers has announced his international retirement. A class act. pic.twitter.com/mGLonmgtop
— Rugby World (@Rugbyworldmag) September 27, 2015
Jean de Villiers,what a human,what a legend,Fought many tough battles and bounced back everytime,a true inspiration for so many Captain
— Breyton Paulse (@BreytonPaulse) September 27, 2015
Feel so sorry for Jean de Villiers!Will never forget the message he gave us at the Titans jersey handover last year.True legend of the game!
— Albie Morkel (@albiemorkel) September 27, 2015
Sad ending to Jean de Villiers international career. Top player, leader and a great guy as well.
— Kelly Brown (@kellydrbrown) September 27, 2015
— Dove Men+Care (@DoveMen) September 27, 2015
There will unfortunately be many injuries that will cost players their World Cup but to se… . http://t.co/lzZ5LNrEyh
— Will Greenwood (@WillGreenwood) September 27, 2015
— Joel Stransky (@stranners) September 27, 2015
One of the classiest men ever to play the game. Jean deVilliers is desperately unlucky to be out of #rwc2015
— Scotty Stevenson (@sumostevenson) September 27, 2015
Really gutted for Jean De Villiers, he is a legend of the game and role model to many, including me. Deserved to retire on his terms.
— Andries Strauss (@Andries_Strauss) September 27, 2015
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South Africa captain Jean de Villiers on Sunday ended his international career after a fractured jaw ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup.
The 34-year-old centre has 109 caps, the fourth highest in South African rugby, and has captained them 37 times. “It’s never nice getting injured and knowing that I’ve played my last game for South Africa. It’s quite sad,” de Villiers told a press conference.
De Villiers suffered the latest of a series of injury blows that have blighted his international career in South Africa’s 46-6 win over Samoa on Saturday.
“As I got replaced and I was running off, I knew it was my last,” he added. “I won’t get this opportunity again. Having played for the Springboks for 13 years now, you’ve been through so much, you’ve made so many good friends, you’ve seen so many good things, you never think that it would end like this.”
De Villiers said he broke the news to teammates on Saturday night and will return to South Africa on Monday for probable surgery on his jaw.
“It’s happened now and I’m very grateful for the time that I’ve had in the Springbok jersey and I wish the team the very best.
“I told them last night, as a former Springbok now, I wish them the very best and I’m supporter number one now.”
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed de Villiers as “a warrior” and one of the country’s greatest players.
“The way in which he never gave up fighting to overcome his last serious knee injury reminded me again how much of a warrior he is and how highly he regarded the Springbok jersey,” said Meyer, whose own position remains under threat after South Africa’s defeat by unheralded Japan at this World Cup.
“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.
“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.”
Despite being considered one of the world’s best centres, injuries have repeatedly stopped de Villiers tasting success on the World Cup stage. He barely made this World Cup after returning from a long lay-off from a serious knee injury suffered against Wales in November.
— Butch James (@butch_james) September 27, 2015
Saturday was the second time in two months that de Villiers has broken his jaw. He snapped the other side of his jaw in South Africa’s historic home defeat by Argentina in August.
De Villiers missed the 2003 World Cup because of a shoulder injury which he sustained on his return from a serious knee injury he suffered just seven minutes into his Test debut in 2002.
In 2007 he injured his biceps in the first game and missed the rest of the tournament which South Africa won.
Despite a shock loss to Japan in their opening match de Villiers still believed South Africa could win the World Cup for the third time.
“We’ve still got a massive game this weekend (against Scotland) and certainly I don’t want the guys to feel sorry for me. “It’s about getting the team right and getting the same attitude that we had yesterday and getting a good win against Scotland.”
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