SOUTH AFRICAN Rugby on Wednesday heaped praise on Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who has retired from international rugby.
The 37-year-old’s illustrious Springbok career spanned 76 Tests over 11 seasons, with his most recent match being the 12-11 win over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final in Paris.
“Duane will forever be regarded as one of the real hard men of South African rugby – he was not only a formidable force for the Springboks, but also a multifaceted player who consistently delivered his best,” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.
“As someone who preferred to operate away from the limelight, Duane was one of those players who never settled for second best and always gave everything he had to his team.
“He was a leader who captained South Africa in four Tests, but he also retired as the most-capped Springbok No 8 with two Rugby World Cup winners’ medals – a wonderful achievement for a player who will be remembered as a true legend of the sport.”
Vermeulen, who hails from Mbombela in Mpumalanga, made his Test debut against Australia in Perth in 2012.
He also won the SA Rugby Player of the Year Award twice (2014 and 2020) and is among an elite club of only five players who have won the award more than once since the advent of professionalism: Schalk Burger (2004, 2011), Bryan Habana (2005, 2007, 2012), Fourie du Preez (2006, 2009), Jean de Villiers (2008, 2013) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (2016, 2018, 2019).
At provincial level, Vermeulen and the late Springbok loose forward, Theuns Stofberg, are the only players who have won the Currie Cup with three different unions, having won the coveted gold trophy with the Cheetahs (2007), Western Province (2012) and Bulls (2020).
Most recently, Vermeulen represented Irish club Ulster.
It’s still uncertain if Vermeulen will continue to play franchise rugby.
News24 recently reported that he was in line for a player-coach type deal at the Stormers.
Vermeulen played for the Stormers between 2009 and 2015. He also played locally for the Pumas (2005-2006), Cheetahs (2007-2008) and Bulls (2019-2021).
Apart from the Ulster stint (2021-2023), he also played club rugby abroad for Toulon in France (2015-2018) and the Kubota Spears in Japan (2018-2020).
“Duane made a massive impression wherever he went, and looking at his achievements all over the world, it’s clear that he was not only a Springbok great, but a superb ambassador for South Africa,” added Alexander.
“I know Duane still has a lot to give back to our wonderful game, but as his playing career comes to an end, on behalf of the entire South African rugby family, I would like to thank Duane for his selfless service to his country and the Springboks, as well as his provincial unions.
“I would like to wish him, his wife, Ezel, and their two sons, Anru and Zian, the best for their future.”
Image (A career well lived. RWC Bok Duane Vermeulen will hang his international boots. He’s seen with coaches Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus).