Butch James quits Test arena
Johannesburg - Veteran Springbok flyhalf Butch James, a member of the Rugby World Cup winning team in 2007, has decided to retire from Test rugby with immediate effect.
James is the most capped Springbok flyhalf, having played 37 of his 42 Tests for South Africa in the No 10 jersey since making his debut against France in 2001. His last Test for the Springboks was at the Rugby World Cup 2011 as a replacement against Wales. He was also a member of the Golden Lions team that won the Absa Currie Cup last year.
The 33-year-old James said the decision to retire from Test rugby was not easy.
“I’ve had a great career playing for South Africa, the Sharks, Bath and the Lions, but I’m not getting any younger and I knew this was the right decision to make, even though it was very difficult,” said James.
“I think I’ve got one or two more years of rugby left in me and all I want to concentrate on at this stage is to give nothing less than 100% on the field and enjoy my game.”
“I’ve been fortunate to have a long career playing at the top level and I’ll look back at my time with the Springboks with nothing but fondness.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who invited James to the Planning Camp that started in Pretoria on Sunday, said he was sad to see someone with James’s experience retire, but that he respects the player's decision.
“Butch was an integral part of the Springbok team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and he’s been a great servant of the game over more than a decade. He contacted me to inform me of his decision to retire and I respect that,” said Meyer.
“I really wanted to have him here with us, as he brings a wealth of experience with him and it would have been great for many of the younger players to work with him, but I understand that he wants to concentrate on his career with the Lions and I can’t fault that.”
James made his senior provincial debut in 1999 for the Sharks. He represented the team from KwaZulu-Natal in 65 provincial and 57 Super Rugby matches. He also played for the Golden Lions (3 provincial and 11 Super Rugby matches), as well as 68 games for English club Bath.
Apart from his 42 Tests, James played one non-Test for the Springboks. He also represented the South African Under-21 side in 1999, when they won the SANZAR-UAR Tournament, and 2000, the SA Under-23s in 2000 and the SA 'A'-team in 2002 and 2003.