Legendary Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez has officially retired.
Du Preez played his 76th and final Test for the Boks in last year's World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks, while he featured in his last match for the Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath at the end of January.
Despite some speculation that he might end his career with a stint in Europe, it was confirmed on Thursday that he had called time on his illustrious rugby career.
Du Preez earned a total of 164 caps for the Bulls from 2001 to 2011, and he played 55 times for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan. He also won numerous awards and trophies during his playing days, earning the SA Player of the Year Award twice (2006, 2009), while playing an instrumental role in the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok squad.
Du Preez was also part of the victorious Bok Tri-Nations teams in 2004 and 2009, and the squad that clinched the series against the British & Irish Lions in 2009. He won further silverware at the U21 World Cup (2002), in Super Rugby (2007, 2009, 2010), the Currie Cup (2003, 2004, 2009) and the Japanese Top League (2011-12 and 2012-13).
'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,' Du Preez said. '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 lifetime.'
Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images