Cape Town - Former Springbok and Bulls No 8 Pierre Spies has written a heart-warming letter following his retirement from professional rugby.
Sport24 reported in June that Spies had decided to stop playing and on Sunday he assured fans that his retirement is now official.
The 32-year-old made his international debut against Australia in Brisbane in 2006 and earned 53 Test caps.
Spies played for the Springboks in three positions - No 8 (48 games), flank (four games) and memorably one match on the wing against the British Lions 2009 at Ellis Park.
He joined former Bok coach Jake White at French club Montpellier in 2016, but was released from his contract after Vern Cotter replaced White as head coach of the Top 14 club.
Spies earned a total of 119 caps for the Bulls between a 2005 and 2015, before joining the Kintetsu Liners in Japan for one season.
On Sunday, Spies wrote the letter on his official website, thanking those involved for the role they played in his career:
As a professional rugby player, I have thought a lot about this day. It is a moment every player is destined for, and yet you cannot control how and when you accommodate it in your life. Much speculation has been going around the past two months about my rugby career and the way forward.
This statement confirms my retirement from all forms of rugby. It has been a wonderful journey and one I will remember for the rest of my days, but it is the end of a chapter in my life.
It is impossible to give credit to all people who contributed towards my career and please do not see an omission of any name as an absence of gratefulness on my part.
I want to thank the following people:
My wife Juanné – you have been absolutely incredible from start to finish – with our kids, and our personal life, supporting me and praying for me through the good and bad times, the ups and downs. Rugby has shown us a lot and I can’t wait for our next chapter – I love you with my whole heart!
My dad who I lost at age 19, but he was my biggest mentor, supporter and motivator. His encouragement was always unconditional and constant, no matter the outcome of my efforts. He taught me a love for God, about greatness and to be different in the way I do things with a focus to hear God’s voice and do his will. My mother for her sheer determination and values on relationships and raising us through tough times. My sisters, Johanni who also worked with me and did an amazing job and Steffani who always supported me and encouraged me.
I have had so many great coaches in my life from primary schools at Laerskool Skuilkrans and then at high school at Affies: Karel Stander, Fanie Grobler, Dr Carel Kriek and Sakkie van der Walt.
All my years at the Bulls in Pretoria:
Ashley Evert, Nico Serfontein at junior level.
Heyneke Meyer who had huge faith in me as a youngster. John Mcfarland, Basil Carzis and a special word to Johan van Graan, a great friend to this day and an unbelievable coach and people’s person. Thank you!
Wynie Strydom our manager for his amazing commitment and Pieter Rossouw and Frans Ludeke, being a rock and a man I have huge respect for, still the only SA coach to win the Super Rugby twice.
The amazing honour it was to wear the Springbok jersey :
Jake White under whom I became a Bok, who brought back many traditions in the Bok environment. Peter de Villiers who did an amazing job in creating a team culture and again Heyneke Meyer under who I played my last test.
Annelee Murray at the Bok team, who was a rock and such an amazing person!
People that believed in me and made me believe in myself, I’d like to thank you for that.
All the amazing players I’ve shared locker rooms, hotel rooms, airplanes and dinner tables with – massive moments of joy, pure bliss and agony and disappointment – thank you for making my life richer and improving my life as a person and a player. I’m forever thankful!
I could’ve continued playing rugby but Ive decided to stop my career because I believe its the right time to start the next chapter of my life. There are many things which motivates me to make a decision like this – family, faith, future, and my purpose.
I believe I can make an impact in this world and have a passion for sharing my faith, encouraging youth and caring for the poor & broken in society.
I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life filled with excitement and wonder – and I believe the best is yet to come!