South African scrum-half Fourie du Preez, who led the Springboks to the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup,announced his retirement from the sport on Thursday after a stellar 15-year career.
Du Preez, 34, was called up to skipper the ‘Boks during the 2015 World Cup in England after an injury forced Jean de Villiers out of the tournament.
He represented the country in 76 Tests between 2004 and 2015, and was a key member of the Springbok team that won the 2007 World Cup in France. He also took part in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
“Rugby has been such an integral part of my life in the last two decades, so a lot of deliberation and thought have gone into my decision to retire,” said Du Preez in a statement.
“I was fortunate and blessed to play the game I loved for 15 years and for that I’m very grateful.
“The friends, memories and life experiences I made will last a life time.”
Du Preez played for the Blue Bulls from 2001 to 2011 and ended his career with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.
South African Rugby president Oregan Hoskins praised Du Preez for his contribution to the game, saying: “He also showed his mental strength when he took over the captaincy of the Springboks at a difficult time last year, leading the team with aplomb.
“Fourie du Preez will go down in the annals of South African rugby as one of the most decorated players ever,” said Hoskins.