Padova - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement
from international rugby shortly after the Test against Italy in Padova on Saturday.
“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of
all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward.
“He is a giant on
the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok
rugby is all about.
“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very
proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has
become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers was just as satisfied with the result and said: “We put in a
big performance against a fired up team and while there is always room for
improvement, I thought we played some great rugby at times.
“We have one week left in our season and everyone involved knows the
Test against Wales in Cardiff next weekend will be a massive challenge - we’ll
be going all out to finish 2014 on a high.”
De Villiers added that emotions ran high in the Springboks’ change room
when Botha broke the news of his international retirement to the touring squad.
“We made our debut for South Africa together against France in Marseille
in 2002 and it’s been a massive honour to play with a Springbok legend for 12
years. He always put his body on the line for the jersey and it’s with a heavy
heart that we said our goodbyes to a giant of SA rugby tonight.”