Former Springbok second row Flip van der Merwe is to retire from playing at the end of this season.
Having initially thrived in the Top 14 when he joined Clermont for the 2015/16 season after nine season of Super Rugby with the Bulls and the Cheetahs, the South African has struggled this season and has started in just four his 12 French league appearances.
That infrequent selection has convinced 33-year-old van der Merwe that it is best that he hangs up his boots in June just before his next birthday.
“The body helps you to say stop,” explained the 1.98-metre forward who tips the scales at 118 kgs.
“You have to be honest, I can not go on. When I see guys being sheepish… I can’t catch them anymore. It’s a hard decision to make in the sense that it’s something, there is emotion.”
— Christophe Buron (@tofburon) May 2, 2019
Van der Merwe was capped 35 times for South Africa but he missed out on World Cup selection in 2015, playing his last Test against Argentina in the run-up to those finals. He added a French Top 14 title in 2017 to Super Rugby honours previously won at the Bulls.
It was this time last year that he made headlines on the back of a four-week ban for pushing a referee, a suspension that cost him an appearance for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham.
In a league match versus Toulouse, a referee had stood in his way while he approached a ruck. Van der Merwe gave the referee a push so that he could get to the breakdown and the play ended with Clermont being awarded a penalty.
The official didn’t take any offence to what the South African had done, bar exchanging a few words after the penalty decision was taken. However, the incident was to have a disciplinary hearing sequel and van der Merwe copped a four-week ban he wasn’t amused by.
He was then suspended for five weeks in March following a red card in a win over Pau.
WATCH: The latest episode of Rugby Explorer where Jim Hamilton visits Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and meets local rugby communities
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.