Schalk Brits has retired from rugby for the second time – and this time it will be for good as the oldest member of the Springboks squad is bowing out at the top following World Cup success in Japan.
It was 2018 when the now 38-year-old was tempted out of retirement by Rassie Erasmus. He hadn’t featured for the Springboks since the 2015 World Cup but was convinced by Erasmus to give it one last whirl following a stellar career where he fleetingly played for South Africa but starred at a multitude of club sides such as the Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Saracens.
Speaking about his latest departure, Brits told the South African Rugby website: “I was happy and content with my career when I decided to retire at the end of the English season in 2018 and I was on holiday with my family in Ibiza when I got a text message from Rassie Erasmus, but at first I thought it was Vincent Koch playing a joke.
“When I realised it was really Rassie, I decided to give it one last shot and ended up playing for the Bulls, something I never thought would happen as a born-and-bred Capetonian, but I loved my time in Pretoria and we had a good season as well.
“Playing in Pretoria was tough on my family, but I’ve not regretted it for one day as it gave me a shot at playing for the Boks again. It was a season of sacrifice, but it was worth it.
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“When we saw Rassie’s plan – and everyone bought in – we knew what we could achieve and all of us worked towards that goal. Everyone knew their roles and how much hard work it would take, and we got stuck in. As a squad, we spent a lot of time together and it was unbelievable being part of this experience.”
Britz only ever played 15 Test matches in a 12-season career, but he has left as a World Cup winner with the warm praise of Erasmus ringing in his ears.
? Ever-smiling @SchalkBrits says goodbye
? Bok captain and RWC winner retires … again
? "This was about the journey, experiences and making memories."
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 13, 2019
“Schalk was an invaluable member of our squad and someone who not only lifted the spirit among the players but set an example with his professionalism and superb work-rate throughout the last two seasons,” said Erasmus.
“He came in with one goal in mind and that was to make the Springboks successful, putting aside his own ambitions and selflessly working for the greater good of the team, as player and mentor to younger squad members.
“To say Schalk is a team player would be underestimating the massive role he played in our success, and for that, I can only thank him.”
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