See how social media reacted when Springbok icon Bryan Habana recently retired from rugby

Social Media Reacts to Bryan Habana Retirement

Just a few weeks after the retirement of Irish rugby legend Jamie Heaslip, another icon of the game, Bryan Habana, has decided to hang up his boots too.

A World Cup and IRB Player of the Year winner in 2007 with South Africa, Habana has been one of the game’s most elusive and fastest wingers. Once he even famously raced a cheetah!

He made his Springboks debut back in November 2004 against England and went on to play 124 times for his country, his last cap coming in November 2016 against Italy. He has also scored 67 Test tries – a total bettered in international rugby only by Japan wing Daisuke Ohata, who scored 69 – and he is tied with Jonah Lomu for the most World Cup tries with 15.

In 2009, he was also part of the South Africa side that defeated the Lions, while he has enjoyed immense success at club level too. He won two Super Rugby titles with the Bulls, in 2007 and 2009, as well as a Top 14 title and two European Cups with Toulon. the club he joined in 2013.

The 34-year-old took to Instagram to announce his retirement:

So it’s my turn to say Thank You: . The inevitable moment has come knocking on my door and I’ve welcomed it in for a drink. . It’s been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time, to taste the sweet victory or encounter that gut-wrenching despair. To hear the roar of the crowd or grab the pill out of the air. To make that last bone crunching tackle or score that last game winning try. But it’s unfortunately just not to be. I, like most, would have liked my career to have ended differently, but sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way we hope for. . So at the end of this season, it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love. . To try and sum up the past 16 years and how quickly they’ve flown by or even begin to describe how amazing the journey has been is impossible. . I would though like to express my gratitude: . • First and foremost, to God for blessing me with the talent to play this beautiful game. • To my wife Janine, Timothy and our newborn Gabriel, for your support, sacrifice and love to follow me to all corners of the earth so that I can pursue my dreams. • To my family and friends, far and wide, who wore their hearts on their sleeves as much as I did. • To the coaches, team-mates, medical and support staff in all the teams I was involved in. • To every opponent that made the battle tough and worthwhile. • To all my sponsors over the years who believed in me enough to support me on the journey. • To the fans, who make the game what it is. • To the critics, not to prove you wrong but so that I could prove to myself I could. • To the media, who take the game to households the world over. • To the lessons learnt, through the good times and the bad. • To the friendships made and experiences a plenty. . But most of all to Rugby, because for me it truly is a game made in heaven. . As a close friend one said: “memories are all we have.” And I’m immensely grateful for the memories I take with me into the next chapter. . With much respect . BH11

A post shared by Bryan Habana (@bryanhabana_) on

After the news spread, social media flocked to praise the winger, as did many of his contemporaries.

The official South African Rugby account tweeted:

As did this Toulon supporters’ account:

Referee Nigel Owens was quick to congratulate Habana on Twitter:

Former Springbok team-mates John Smit and Bakkies Botha thanked him for being so effective throughout his career:

Even those who Habana tormented for years took the time to praise his career, such as the All Blacks:

Habana was one of the greatest wingers ever and had an illustrious career. Well played, Bryan Habana.

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