Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger
Cape Town - The hours following the end of Jean de Villiers’ international career were drenched in emotion.
The Springbok captain knew immediately after the match that his days in the green and gold were over.
Scans would confirm the suspicions, and what followed was an evening of gratitude for a man that represented his country 109 times.
After an evening of fellowship that included a drink with Ernie Els and Danie Gerber, De Villiers tried to get some sleep. But he couldn’t. It was at that point that long-time friend and team-mate Schalk Burger knocked on the door.
“Schalk came to my room and obviously I couldn’t sleep,” De Villiers said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“We’ve been through a lot together. We were talking, I think, to after 04:00 clock in the morning … just in my room chatting about him almost dying and me not actually being able to play rugby again, and where we started and where we are now … the unbelievable journey. It was very special.”
That brought the curtain down on an evening that De Villiers certainly didn’t want mid-World Cup, but one that he will never forget.
“The last thing I want is for the guys to look at me every single time and feel sorry for me. We sort of got over that on Saturday,” said De Villiers.
“We had a team meeting and at that stage I had the scans and everything so I basically knew that it was over. We had a capping for Adriaan Strauss on his 50th game and then I said a couple of words … struggled to get a lot out.
“Seeing a lot of grown men with tears in their eyes is something you don’t usually see in that environment. We’ve grown close to each other in the squad and there’s so many guys there that I’ve walked a long path with.”
The show, as they say, goes on ... and De Villiers has been replaced in the Bok squad by Jan Serfontein.