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Jean de Villiers announces retirement from Test rugby

De Villiers is currently the fourth most capped player in the history of SA Test rugby with 109.

FILE: South Africa's centre and captain Jean de Villiers sustained jaw fracture during the Pool B match against Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has on Sunday announced his retirement from international rugby, following a jaw fracture he sustained in a Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Samoa on Saturday.

The 34-year-old De Villiers, who captained the Boks 37 times, has retired as the second most capped Springbok captain of all time, and is currently the fourth most capped player in the history of South African Test rugby, with 109.

"When I got injured yesterday and I left the field, I knew that I had played my last Test for South Africa," said De Villiers, who became the 54th Springbok captain when he was appointed by Coach Heyneke Meyer in June 2012.

"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 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."

De Villiers recalled the one moment that stood out for him in his career.

"Probably my favourite moment as a Springbok was my 101 Test, at DHL Newlands, with my two daughters in my arms as we took to the field. We recorded a brilliant victory against Australia, I was fortunate to score two tries and afterwards I could play with my children on the pitch. I've had a blessed career and I will be forever grateful for that."

De Villiers will return to South Africa on Monday to possibly have surgery on his fractured jaw.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said, "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."

Meyer added that emotions ran high as the captain said goodbye to his team-mates.

"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.

DE VILLIERS NO STRANGER TO WORLD CUP INJURIES

The 34-year-old Paarl Gymnasium alumnus' Springbok career has been riddled with injury, but it's been the quadrennial Rugby World Cup that has been most unkind to de Villiers.

De Villiers has been selected for four World Cups, and at each one he suffered an injury.

He made his first senior-level appearance for South Africa in November 2002 against France, but suffered a major knee injury five minutes into the game.

The veteran centre would go on to miss the 2003 World Cup in Australia as a result. The 2007 tournament, which the Springboks won in France was no different for him.

He won the World Cup with South Africa, although he tore his biceps during the opening game of the tournament and took no further part.

Four years later at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, injury was once again waiting for him. In New Zealand he played just 25 minutes in the first game against Wales when he popped a rib.

He recovered and played the last Pool B game from the bench against Samoa. It was still to be a bad ending for him as the Boks crashed to defeat against Australia in the quarter final.

His provincial and Super Rugby career at Western Province and the Stormers wasn't sparred either, missing large chunks of the 2015 season and previous years with various injuries, including a troublesome wrist niggle.

An announcement on the Springboks captaincy for the match against Scotland on 3 October will be made on Wednesday.

Visit the Eyewitness News special Rugby World Cup 2015 portal.

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