De Villiers first wore the Blue & White hoops of Western
Province as an aspiring Under-13 Craven Week player, that after his
father, Andre, represented Western Province with distinction in the
De Villiers played his final match for the Stormers on May
3, 2014 (against the Highlanders at Newlands), racking up a total of
105 caps since his debut against the Sharks in February 2005.
He also played 50 matches for Western Province, his final
appearance coming in the 2013 Absa Currie Cup final – having made his
debut in the Vodacom Cup in February 2001.
De Villiers would certainly have played more games for WP Rugby had
it not been for a catalogue of serious injuries – especially the knee
injury he suffered on his Springbok debut in November 2002 – but he will
go down as one of this union’s greatest players in the modern era after
also amassing 109 Bok caps (including 37 as captain).
Western Province Rugby Football Union president, Thelo Wakefield,
commented: “Jean will go down in the annals as one of our greats. He’s
always been a true ambassador for Western Province and South African
Rugby and he will continue to fly our flag for years to come.
“I would like to thank Jean for everything he has done for WP Rugby
over the past 15 years. I would like to wish him, his wife Marlie and
their three children all the very best for their time in England.”
WP Director of Rugby, Gert Smal, paid tribute to “a true Province Man”.
“I was lucky enough to have selected Jean on his Province debut back
in 2001 and then, already, one could see that he would become a special
player,” Smal told the www.iamastormer.com website.
“His record and statistics speak for themselves. But it is his mental
strength, having recovered from his various injuries to still make such
an impact at the highest level, and loyalty to this union that stand
out more than anything else.“Jean has played all his rugby for Western Province, from Under-13
upwards, and spent just that one season at Munster (in 2009/10),
before deciding to make this move to Leicester where I have no doubt
that he will leave a lasting impression – both on and off the field.“He has always been proud to wear the Blue & White hoops of Western Province and play for the Stormers and that kind of
commitment and loyalty is a great example and lesson to any aspiring
rugby player.“Jean de Villiers is a true Province Man and we look forward to
seeing him back at Newlands, with his family, supporting both the Stormers and WP for years to come.”Whilst De Villiers will not be seen in Stormers colours in 2016,
it was recently announced that young guns Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth,
Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende had all signed long-term deals to remain in Cape Town.The quartet will be joined in Stormers colours next year by
returning Bok veteran Schalk Burger, as well as new signings JC Janse
van Rensburg (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock) and Cornal Hendricks
(wing) – along with prop JP Smith and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, both of
whom featured for WP in the 2015 Absa Currie Cup.Of course, former Japan coach Eddie Jones will officially take over as Stormers head coach next month, with former Lions Under-21 and Vodacom Cup boss Russell Winter this week announced as the union’s new senior forwards coach.