Springbok World Cup winner Pietersen retires at 34

·1-min read
JP Pietersen scored four tries as South Africa won the 2007 World Cup, including one against England in the group stage

South Africa Rugby World Cup winner JP Pietersen announced his retirement on Friday at the age of 34.

Pietersen, who played mostly as a winger, made 70 Springbok appearances scoring 24 tries. He appeared in three World Cups, collecting a winner's medal at the first, in 2007.

He started and ended his career with the Durban-based Sharks and had stints in Japan and with Leicester Tigers and Toulon in Europe.

He announced his retirement on social media, saying he was grateful for "such a long career that has unfolded beyond my wildest dreams."

"Rugby has changed my life for the better and I will be forever grateful for what this game has done for me."

"It will take a while for all of this to sink in, but I'm so fortunate to have been able to represent my country."

Former team-mates and opponents quickly responded on Twitter and Instagram.

"Legend," posted Springboks Jesse Kriel and Jean-Luc du Preez and former Toulon team-mate and France captain Mathieu Bastareaud.

"World class," wrote another Springbok, Warrick Gelant.

"Honoured to have played alongside you," posted ex-France centre Maxime Mermoz, who overlapped with Pietersen at Toulon. "Your happiness is contagious!"

"Congrats on an epic career," wrote England international Freddie Burns, a team-mate at the Tigers.

"Well done on a great haul," said South African born les Bleus scrum-half Rory Kockott, a former Sharks team-mate.