‘It has been a massive honour’ – Steyn

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The two-time World Cup winner, Frans Steyn, remains one of only two Springboks to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy twice - with the other being the Free State legend, Os du Randt. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs and Springbok great, Frans Steyn, has called an end to his illustrious career at the age of 36.

The versatile player – who can play anywhere in the backline – has been struggling with a knee injury he sustained against the Bulls during the early rounds of the Currie Cup, and this has promoted him to hang up his rugby boots.

The injury ruled him out of playing in the Rugby World Cup in France, and possibly deny him the distinction of becoming the only player in the world to win the Webb Ellis Trophy for a third time.

Steyn began his career straight out of school at Grey College in Bloemfontein when he signed for the Sharks. After just a handful of games, he impressed the powers that be enough to earn Springbok selection, and he made his debut for the Boks against Ireland in 2006 in Dublin. There were early signs that he would become one of the greats of the game by scoring a try on debut. His good friend and long-time teammate, Ruan Pienaar, also played in that Test off the bench. The pair would play together for the Sharks, Montpellier and the Cheetahs as well.

In 2009, Steyn was contracted by Racing 92 in France, where he played in 57 games for the club over three years before heading back to the Sharks in Durban. In 2016, he headed to Japan to play for Toshiba Brave Lupus, before heading back to France, but this time he played for Montpellier. In 2020, Steyn’s career went full circle by signing for the Cheetahs and he made a return to the town where it all started for him. While Steyn only played a handful of games for the Free State, he certainly left his mark on the team, and also quickly established himself as one of the city’s favourite sons.

Unfortunately, being in the twilight of his career, injuries started catching up with the stalwart and he was able to play less and less games. Steyn’s last game was in March during round three of the Currie Cup. In this match in Bloemfontein, he sustained a knee injury during the 32-7 win, and this dashed his hopes of playing in the World Cup again. As it turned out, this would be his swansong as well.

On Tuesday night, Steyn officially announced his retirement from the sport and said that there have been no regrets and it has been a massive honour.

“It has been a tough few months coming to terms with saying goodbye to the game that has been my entire life,” said Steyn.

“In answer to the many questions I have faced since sustaining a knee injury earlier this year, I am hereby announcing my retirement from professional rugby. To be honest, this is not how I envisioned the journey ending. Every player wants to end on their terms, but I am fortunate to have played this game for so long and incredibly grateful for the journey I have had.

“I have given it my everything and I have no regrets.

“I have a massive number of people to thank from all around the world. For the support throughout the highs and lows of my career, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity, the friendships, the memories, and the lessons that rugby has given me.

“I look forward to the next chapter and the opportunity to give back to the game that has given me everything.

“Thank you for all the support. It has been a massive honour.”

In announcing his retirement from the game, Steyn has now truly established himself as a legend of not only Free State or South African rugby, but of world rugby too. Steyn, known for his massive boot, will go down as one of the true greats of the sport.

Frans, it has been an absolute honour to watch you play the sport these many years! – MORGAN PIEK