Cape Town - Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield will lock down for the Barbarians against Argentina at Twickenham on November 21 in what will be the veteran lock duo’s final professional matches of their respective careers.
The match in London, England will feature the end of an era as it will be the last game for Matfield (38) and Botha (35), who hold the record for most Tests as a lock combination (63 Tests).
In the immediate future, Matfield’s main focus will be on his final season with the Springboks as he’s set to play an important role at the Rugby World Cup in England. Botha will play one more World XV game against Japan in Tokyo in August, before featuring for the Barbarians against Samoa ahead of the global tournament.
After the Rugby World Cup, the duo will then lock down for the Barbarians in an exhibition match against Argentina on November 21.
Botha confirmed the news following the Springboks’ 46-10 victory over the World XV at Newlands on Saturday.
“The idea to play alongside each other in our final game has been planned by the match organisers,” Botha told MyPlayers.co.za. “That will be the last professional game of my career for any team.”
And in typical “Bakkies” fashion, the former Springbok, Bulls and Toulon lock added that he’s looking forward to the last stretch of his professional rugby career.
“It’s going to be an interesting few months for me as I’m already half-retired!” said Botha. “I will enjoy some rest back home with the family for few weeks before travelling on August 2.
“It will be my first time in Tokyo, which is nice. I told the guys I’ll need to invest in a pair of shin-guards as those guys tackle very low! I also can’t really make any big tackles because as they are short players, so hopefully we can adjust the game plan for me!”
After the Barbarians game, Matfield is expected to go into coaching, while Botha said he will be focused on his family.
“I’m looking forward to retirement as I’ll get to spend more time with my family,” said Botha. “I’ll miss the matches and camaraderie among friends, but it’s going to be awesome waking up to no rugby e-mails or programmes lists for training. I can wake up the kids, help them get ready and take them to school. The teachers will finally see that my wife is no longer a single mom!
“I’m blessed that I’ve been able to manage my life during my career to ensure I do not need to work a 9-to-5 job after rugby. My time will be my time, and I plan on spending it with my wife and kids.”
Matfield expressed how proud he was of Botha.
“Ahead of the World XV game, our families spent some time at breakfast together. It’s been a great journey we’ve enjoyed as team-mates,” said Matfield.
“Bakkies is in a very good space at the moment as his career comes to an end. He’s blessed enough to be set for life after rugby. As a player, he leaves a legacy as he celebrated success in the Rugby World Cup, Heineken Cup, French Top 14, Super Rugby and Currie Cup. He even won a Vodacom Cup with (Springbok coach) Heyneke Meyer. How many players can match up to that?
“Bakkies is an awesome player, an amazing person, and a great family man. I’m very proud of him.”
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