South Africa
Meyer pays tribute to Bakkies Botha
ESPN Staff
November 23, 2014
Bakkies Botha will continue to turn out for Toulon © Getty Images

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has paid tribute to lock Bakkies Botha after he announced his retirement from the international game.

Botha watched the Springboks 22-6 win over Italy in Padova from the stars and announced his retirement after the game. Botha won 85 caps after making his debut in 2002 against France and was part of the 2007 World Cup winning side. He has also won the Tri-Nations, a series against the British and Irish Lions, Super Rugby, Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup as well as the European Cup and France's Top 14 with Toulon, who he will continue to play for.

"Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time," said Meyer. "He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

"I've coached him for a very long time and while I'm immensely proud of the player he's become, I'm even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I'll forever be very proud of having been his coach."

Botha returned to the Springboks last November after two years in the international wilderness and was joined by his long-time lock partner Victor Matfield earlier this year.

"The news of my retirement will probably be described as sudden and unexpected, but it is a decision that I've been mulling over since 2011," said Botha. "To be able to make this decision on my own terms, knowing I'm still good enough to play Test rugby, is a huge blessing.

"I'm planning to finish my contract with Toulon and defend our titles this season. And who knows, perhaps there is a province in South Africa who can see me add value to their Currie Cup campaign next year and I can play my final match in my beloved country of birth before finally hanging up my boots at the end of 2015 at all levels of the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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