Edinburgh centre Andries Strauss announced this week that he has retired from rugby with immediate effect.
The 32-year-old played his 50th and final match for the capital club against Cardiff Blues on Saturday and described playing for the side, which he joined in 2014, as a “huge honour and privilege”.
“I have played rugby for most my life – as far back as I can remember – and it’s finally come time for me to call it quits and move on,” he said.
“I’ve had a great time playing the game and have been blessed to have been doing it at a high level for so long.
“I’m grateful for all that came with it; the victories and defeats; the injuries and recoveries; the blood, sweat and sometimes tears; the trophies and runners-up medals but most of all, I’m grateful for the friendships and memories that I have made.
“A career means nothing if it’s not shared with people you care for and who care for you and in rugby, it’s impossible to succeed on your own.
Strauss ends his career a two-time Currie Cup winner, which he won during his time with the Cheetahs and was part of the Edinburgh team that made history last season, becoming the first Scottish team to play in a European rugby final.
He said: “My mind and spirit is willing but my body is urging me to stop, constantly reminding me that I’ve pushed it through enough pain barriers and pushed the physical boundaries for too long.
“It all started in my parent’s backyard in Harrismith playing against my brothers. The game has taken me to places that I could only have ever dreamed of as a young boy and I have competed, with and against, many players that I looked up to as heroes while growing up and admire.
“I’ll miss many things; the atmosphere of sold out stadiums; the big tackles and long range tries; the excited uncertainty before every game and the team talks and build-ups to big matches; the satisfaction of winning crunch games and disappointments after a narrow defeat.
“Most of all, I’ll miss the post-match camaraderie that goes hand in hand with being part of a team and the cold beers with friends who have become like brothers to me.
“Rugby has taught me, to be honest, accountable and respectful, but most of all its taught me to be brave, not run from fear but straight at it because of courage, is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it.”
He represented South Africa at Sevens and played against the Barbarians on the Springboks’ end of year tour in 2010.
“I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has had an influence on my career.
“Firstly, thank you to my wife Colleen who supported me through all the highs and lows and moved around the world so that I could live out my dream.
“To my parents who have given me every opportunity to pursue a career in rugby, instilling in me the values of being humble and working hard and to my brothers, for keeping me from becoming soft.
“It will be unfair to single out any individual coaches or players but thank you to all of you for making my modest career extremely special.
“Lastly, to my one-and-only agent Stephen Weyers; thanks for putting up with me and helping direct and guide my career from start to finish.
“I look forward to what the future holds and the new challenges that await my wife and I but most of all, I look forward to waking up without any aches and pains and to what will hopefully be a long successful career in social golf, Goodbye.”