Blitzboks veteran Kyle Brown retires from professional rugby

By Michael Hudson

South Africa Sevens veteran Kyle Brown has announced his retirement from professional rugby, bringing his illustrious career to an end. Brown, who has been one of the cornerstones of South Africa Sevens setup, will be hanging his boots after more than a decade of playing at the highest level.

The 32-year-old made his debut for South Africa in the 2008 Dubai Sevens. He was part of the squad who won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2009‚ 2017 and 2018 seasons. He also captained his side to the gold medal in rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and captained the Blitzboks to bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.

Brown’s recent appearances for South Africa has been hampered with two serious knee injuries and he last played at the Sydney Sevens earlier this year. Looking back at his debut in 2008, Brown said he never knew he would find a home in the team and relished the opportunities he had to visit some amazing cities.

“I played my first tournament with the team in December 2008‚ not knowing that this team would become my home for the last 11 years and my entire professional career‚” Brown was quoted saying by Times Live. “The last decade has passed quicker than I could have imagined‚ I have traveled to some incredible destinations and enjoyed experiences that some could only dream of‚ for that I will always be grateful.”

A long and successful career such as Brown’s would definitely have some memorable moments and the veteran named winning medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth games as some of his unforgettable moments. He also said it’s the people that makes the Blitzboks squad so special and they are why he stuck around for so long.

“I have been fortunate to have ridden this roller coaster that is sevens rugby through many unforgettable moments. Some highlights are medalling at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and taking our home tournaments in George‚ Port Elizabeth and Cape Town,” he said.

“People always want to know what is special about this team‚ the answer is seemingly simple – the people. People have always been the heart and soul of this team‚ and the dominant reason why I have stayed with this team for so long.”

South Africa head coach Neil Powell hailed the Brown and called him a gentleman‚ friend and a player who cares deeply for the Blitzboks. Powell also praised the veteran for how he overcame his knee injuries.

“I was privileged enough to play with Kyle and later coach him and in both roles‚ he remained a gentleman‚ a friend and a player who cares deeply for the Blitzboks‚” said Powell. “Few people realise how hard he had to work to get back into contention after two consecutive knee operations. He showed tremendous guts and determination to regain his competitive edge following those injuries‚ and did so with such a positive mind-set that it enhanced the Blitzboks on the world stage.”

Despite the loss of a mainstay of the team, South Africa Sevens skipper Philip Synman said he was confident the next generation of players will accomplish great things and make the country proud.

The Blitzboks lost a number of veterans after the likes of Kwagga Smith, Ruhan Nel, Dylan Sage, Seabelo Senatla, Tim Agaba and Rosko Specman decided to switch to 15s. As a result, South Africa have been forced call up a number of youngsters to the squad.

Young players such as JC Pretorius, Ryan Oosthuizen and Muller du Plessis have shown a lot of potential and Synman believes the future is bright for the Blitzboks.

Synman said he was confident the younger generation would achieve a lot and make the Blitzboks series winners again. He also added that their culture and values will ensure the team remain very competitive.

“I am confident that the next group of players can take the team to the same heights as before,” Snyman was quoted saying by IOL “Everyone understands that you only have the jersey for a certain amount of time and the responsibility is to leave it in a better place than before. You never know when it is your last game, so for every match you play, you must give it your all.”

Synman was pleased with his side’s performance at the Paris Sevens tournament. The Blitzboks headed into the Paris Sevens with Olympic qualification secured and Synman said the 24-7 victory over the USA in the bronze final in Paris was a good way to end the season.

“One always remembers your last game, so for us it would be beating the USA for the bronze medal. That is a nice way to round off the season. We left the field with smiles on our faces and hearts full of joy, knowing that we left nothing out there. You can’t ask for much more.”

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