NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, 27 Sept - South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has announced that his 13-year international rugby career has come to an end after he was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a broken jaw sustained in Saturday's victory over Samoa.
The Springbok centre played 109 times for his country at senior level and three years ago became the 54th Springbok captain.
"When I got injured yesterday and I left the field, I knew that I had played my last test for South Africa,” De Villiers (pictured above) said on Sunday. “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."
Despite winning more than 100 caps, De Villiers has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, often coinciding with Rugby World Cups.
He made his first appearance for South Africa in 2002, the year before the World Cup, but suffered a major knee injury on his debut. Then, during the Sprinkboks’ opening game of the 2007 tournament against Samoa, De Villiers tore a muscle in his arm and, while his teammates went on to claim the Webb Ellis Cup, he played no further part.
In 2011, he missed most of the competition after injuring a rib in the opening game, meaning that before this World Cup he had played only a combined 160 minutes of rugby in the tournament.
But de Villiers said he was "at peace" with how his test career ended during a South Africa win, a week after the shock loss to Japan.
"I think being able to do it with so many of my friends, and being able to do it probably in the toughest week of my rugby career, and then being able to get through that, get a win and finish it off like that - I’ll take that."
His coach, Heyneke Meyer, said: “Jean is a true ambassador for South Africa and a person everyone in our country can be immensely proud of."
"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."