SA Rugby President, Mr Oregan Hoskins, paid tribute to Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who called time on his illustrious rugby career on Thursday.
The 34-year-old Du Preez represented South Africa in 76 Tests between 2004 and 2015, captaining the Springboks in four Tests at the Rugby World Cup in England last year. He also won 164 caps for the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls from 2001 to 2011, and played 55 times for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.
Du Preez played his last match in the green and gold in the Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, where he picked up an injury which ruled him out of the third-place play-off. He has subsequently finished his career with Suntory.“Fourie du Preez will go down in the annals of South African rugby as one of the most decorated players ever,” said Mr Hoskins.
“While his unique and superb playing skills have been lauded over the years, 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.
“He has beaten the All Blacks and Wallabies more times than he’s lost against them and has an overall winning percentage of just over 71% with the Boks.
“His contribution to the game in South Africa, at all levels, will be remembered for many years with a host of young scrumhalves having had the opportunity to play with and learn from him. Hopefully he will return to the local game and contribute in other capacities in the future.”
Du Preez won numerous awards and trophies during his playing days. He was named the SA Rugby Player of the Year twice (2006, 2009), was a member of the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning Springbok squad, where he played a pivotal role in the team’s ultimate success.
He also won silverware at first-class level in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (2004 and 2009), British & Irish Lions Series (2009), Under-21 World Cup (2002), Vodacom Super Rugby (2007, 2009, 2010), Currie Cup (2003, 2004, 2009) and the Japanese league (2012 and 2013).
“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.
“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.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for always supporting me through the good and the bad times. Also my team-mates, who had each other’s backs no matter what, and everyone involved in helping me through this journey, including coaches, medical staff, trainers and supporters.
“Finally, all the honour must go to the Lord. Not for all the teams and trophies I was part of, but for giving me the strength to always continue and never give up.”