Having made his debut for the senior rugby team in 2004, Jacques Burger recently announced his retirement from the game after a trophy laden career and having represented his country at three Rugby World Cups.
During his club career, the 32-year-old flanker played in South Africa, France and England where he finished his career with Saracens in the English Premiership, a club he joined in 2009.
In 2010 he was named the Saracens Player of the Year.
Burger last month wrote an “Open Letter” to his family in which he bids farewell to his rugby family.
“So, the body (and face) have finally had enough. They’ve been begging me to stop playing for a while now and the time has come.
I’ve loved playing the game of rugby. I am blessed to have done so at a high level. Big defeats, big victories, Cup Finals and three Rugby World Cups. I was obsessed with rugby, I lived for it and was willing to break for it.
What sticks out for me? The sick feeling that consumes you before a big match. The hair standing up on the back of your neck in pre-match talks, guys screaming at each other and the sound of a big collision between two players. The emotions, the atmospheres, the camaraderie between a group of players. All will live long in the memory.
What I love about this game is that there’s no hiding. To play it you need to be brave, sometimes a bit brutal, but when you walk off you shake hands and act like kids again.
But the most important thing I’ll take away from my career, and the thing I’m most grateful for, is the friends I’ve made whilst being on this journey.
All the success means nothing if you can’t celebrate it with your buddies after the match. That first cold beer after you’ve put in a shift together is the best feeling around. Those memories will stick forever.
I’ve been overwhelmed by all the messages of support I have received and I am truly humbled.
May I take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my career. It’s been a period of my life that has had highs and lows, but that support has always been there. I’m sure in the future there will be tough times, but when I’m done and when I’m missing the game, I can look back on this wonderful period of my life with real pride and affection.
I’m very excited about what the future holds, but until then and for one last time this Sunday….
Let’s go to work”