Bryan Habana shocked the rugby world when he announced his retirement from the game on Tuesday, much as the news could have been expected as the 2007 IRB Player of the Year had been sidelined with a knee injury for much of the past year.
Habana ends his international career with 124 caps for South Africa, having played at the 2007, 2011, and 2015 Rugby World Cup tournaments. He is the second-highest try-scorer in international rugby, with 67 tries.
Read below how the rugby world responded to the Springboks legend's news.
So it's my turn to say Thank You: . The inevitable moment has come knocking on my door and I've welcomed it in for a drink. . It's been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time, to taste the sweet victory or encounter that gut-wrenching despair. To hear the roar of the crowd or grab the pill out of the air. To make that last bone crunching tackle or score that last game winning try. But it's unfortunately just not to be. I, like most, would have liked my career to have ended differently, but sometimes things don't turn out quite the way we hope for. . So at the end of this season, it's time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love. . To try and sum up the past 16 years and how quickly they've flown by or even begin to describe how amazing the journey has been is impossible. . I would though like to express my gratitude: . • First and foremost, to God for blessing me with the talent to play this beautiful game. • To my wife Janine, Timothy and our newborn Gabriel, for your support, sacrifice and love to follow me to all corners of the earth so that I can pursue my dreams. • To my family and friends, far and wide, who wore their hearts on their sleeves as much as I did. • To the coaches, team-mates, medical and support staff in all the teams I was involved in. • To every opponent that made the battle tough and worthwhile. • To all my sponsors over the years who believed in me enough to support me on the journey. • To the fans, who make the game what it is. • To the critics, not to prove you wrong but so that I could prove to myself I could. • To the media, who take the game to households the world over. • To the lessons learnt, through the good times and the bad. • To the friendships made and experiences a plenty. . But most of all to Rugby, because for me it truly is a game made in heaven. . As a close friend one said: "memories are all we have." And I'm immensely grateful for the memories I take with me into the next chapter. . With much respect . BH11
SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, on Tuesday said record-breaking Springbok wing @BryanHabana, 34, who announced his retirement from the game at the end of the European season, is "one of the greatest South African sportsmen of all time". pic.twitter.com/EhHHI8zXwn— South African Rugby (@Springboks) April 24, 2018
Had the pleasure of interviewing @BryanHabana many times over the years. His brilliance on the pitch has always been matched by his humility and time for others off it... a true gent.— Martin Cross (@MartinXRugby) April 24, 2018
Congrats bud on a great career 👊🏼— Mark Cueto (@Mark_Cueto) April 24, 2018
Habbsy!! What a pleasure it was to not only play against you, to play alongside you but to also get to know you off the field.— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) April 24, 2018
One of the greats of our game but also a genuinely good bloke!
Catch you soon mate, I'll have a beer and you can have your standard Malibu pineapple 😂 pic.twitter.com/O3Yo2TAXor
Legendary innings my mate, I watched a young boy become a South Africa icon. Congrats brother and good luck!!! What an incredible ambassador you have been for SA, oh yes and thanks for scoring all those tries!!!😜— John Smit (@JohnSmit123) April 24, 2018
Wishing @BryanHabana all the best as he tackles his next adventure in life post-rugby. Know you'll be a success in whatever u do. You've been an amazing inspiration on and off the field! Thank you for the memories! ✨🏆🏉 Go Well!— Wayde van Niekerk (@WaydeDreamer) April 24, 2018