Boks skipper Jean De Villiers announces retirement after breaking jaw
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers retired from international rugby last night after being ruled out of the World Cup due to a broken jaw as his tournament jinx returned to haunt him.
It was the second such injury suffered in the last two months by the 34-year-old centre, who made a miraculous recovery to get fit for the World Cup, only to fracture the right side of his jaw late in Saturday’s 46-6 win over Samoa at Villa Park.
“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.
“I was quite sad 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,” he said.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to the courage of his former captain.
“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,” Meyer said.
“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.”
Jan Serfontein will join the squad in Newcastle today as his replacement while De Villiers heads to South Africa for possible surgery.
The break is on the opposite side of De Villiers’s jaw to the fracture sustained against Argentina in Durban in August.
Injury has blighted the Springbok centre’s World Cup career with just handful of his 109 caps over the last 13 years coming at the showpiece tournament.
De Villiers missed out on the 2003 World Cup, some six months after he suffered a serious knee injury just five minutes into his debut against France.
He is officially a 2007 winner, although he tore his biceps during the opening game of the tournament in France and took no further part as the Boks went on to be crowned world champions.
At the last World Cup four years ago, he went off after just 25 minutes of the first game against Wales in Wellington with a rib injury and made just a cameo appearance later on as South Africa exited in the quarter-finals.