Thu, Nov 08, 2007 - Page 20 News List

South Africa's Skinstad retires, this time for real

AP , JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

No. 8 Bobby Skinstad retired from rugby for good on Tuesday after ending a four-year hiatus to help South Africa win the World Cup last month.

Skinstad, who played in 42 tests from 1997 and was the Springboks' 50th captain, said in a statement the time was right to end his playing days and pursue business interests. He will miss the short tour this month of Wales and England.

"When I met with [South Africa coach] Jake White in London around this time a year ago and we spoke about the possibility of me returning to challenge for a World Cup place I dreamed of it ending with a World Cup triumph, but at the time it was just a dream," Skinstad said.

"Today I leave the game on my terms and with the most wonderful memory of experiencing the thrill of a winning World Cup campaign. I often said to people this year that I felt the stars were aligned and it was South African rugby's year," he said.

The 31-year-old Skinstad's last appearance was as a reserve in the 37-13 semifinal win over Argentina at Stade de France.

It was his second World Cup. He helped South Africa reach the semifinals in 1999, but missed the 2003 tournament after breaking his forearm two months beforehand.

He went to the UK soon after and became a club player and TV analyst. He was lured back to South Africa by White and helped the Sharks this year make the Super 14 final. Then almost four years after his last test cap, he was back in the Springboks side in June.

"I never doubted my desire to want to play for the Springboks again, but knew it was a privilege that had to be earned and at this time I want to say a special thanks to the coaches, conditioning staff and players at the Sharks who embraced my presence and reaffirmed my belief that nothing is impossible," he said.

Skinstad made his debut as a reserve against England in 1997, a 29-11 win at Twickenham, and captained South Africa 12 times, scoring 11 tries.

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