RUGBY - FRANCE

Legendary prop De Villiers calls it a day

2 min

French international prop Pieter De Villiers has announced his retirement after failing to recover from a back injury. In a glittering 13-year career, De Villiers won 69 caps with "les Bleus," lifting 4 Six Nations cups and 5 French league titles.

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French international prop Pieter De Villiers on Thursday announced his retirement from the sport after struggling to recover from a serious back injury.

"I'm officially stopping playing rugby," the South African-born 35-year-old told his Stade Francais club website.

"It's something that I have thought hard about and for me it's the right decision."

De Villiers made 69 international appearances for France while, in a 13-year club career at Stade, he lifted five French league titles.

He made his international debut in 1999 and was part of the squad which reached the World Cup semi-finals before injury ruled him out of the 2003 edition.

However, he was back in the squad for the 2007 World Cup where the French finished in fourth place.

The back injury, which he picked up at the end of last year, meant that he was overlooked by new coach Marc Lievremont for the 2008 Six Nations as a series of younger forwards were blooded with the 2011 World Cup in mind.

"Since the back injury, which I have had since the end of December, I tried to come back but I don't want to play just for the sake of playing," said de Villiers.

"It might be difficult for people to accept as the season is just about to come to an end but there isn't an on-off switch for the human body or mentality. It's been 30 years of good times with this sport and I have great memories.

"But when I fell to the pitch and felt the pain in my back I had to start thinking about my wife and children; it was time to start thinking about taking a step back."

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