Rugby World Cup
Jean de Villiers retires from Test rugby after fractured jaw rules him out of Rugby World Cup
Tom Hamilton
September 28, 2015
South Africa and Italy record first wins (Australia only)

Springboks legend Jean de Villiers has retired from international rugby after fracturing his jaw in their Rugby World Cup win over Samoa on Saturday. The injury ruled De Villiers out of the rest of the tournament and, aged 34, with 109 caps to his name, he has opted to call time on his South Africa career.

De Villiers captained South Africa on 37 occasions and is the fourth-most capped player in South Africa rugby history. He has been replaced in the Springboks squad by Jan Serfontein.

"When I got injured yesterday and I left the field, I knew that I had played my last Test for South Africa," De Villiers said. "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.

South Africa's Jean De Villiers poses for a portrait, South Africa Rugby World Cup 2015 photo call, Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, September 13, 2015
South Africa's Jean De Villiers © Getty Images

"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.

"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 number one 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."

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to De Villiers, saying: "Jean is a true ambassador for South Africa and a person everyone in our country can be immensely proud of.

"The way in which he never gave up fighting to overcome his last serious knee injury reminded me again how much if a warrior he is and how highly he regarded the Springbok jersey.

"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.

"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."

De Villiers will now return to South Africa for treatment on his jaw before deciding on his next port of call.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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