World Rugby

Duane Vermeulen: Rugby Icon Retires With Two World Cup Titles

Duane Vermeulen: Rugby Icon Retires With Two World Cup Titles

Duane Vermeulen's iconic rugby career, spanning 76 tests and two Rugby World Cup victories, comes to an illustrious end. He's a true legend of the sport.

Nov 8, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Duane Vermeulen: Rugby Icon Retires With Two World Cup Titles

Recently retired South African rugby icon Duane Vermeulen, whose illustrious Springboks career spanned 76 tests over 11 seasons, leaves an indelible mark on the sport. 

If it weren’t for injuries, the 37-year-old probably would have racked up a century of appearances in the green and gold, as noted by South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander. 

Vermeulen, a versatile forward, began his international journey in 2012, making his test debut against Australia in Perth. 

He concluded his remarkable career on the grandest stage, in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in Paris. His career accolades include two Rugby World Cup titles, making him a true rugby legend. 

He also was a recipient of the SA Rugby Player of the Year Award twice (2014 and 2020), joining an elite club of only five players who have won the award more than once. Vermeulen's name is alongside the likes of Schalk Burger, Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers and Pieter-Steph du Toit. 

At the provincial level, Vermeulen's achievements were equally impressive. 

He shares a unique distinction with the late Springboks loose forward Theuns Stofberg as the only players to have won the Currie Cup with three different unions, achieving this feat with the Toyota Cheetahs (2007), DHL Western Province (2012) and the Vodacom Bulls (2020). 

Reflecting on Vermeulen's contributions, Mark Alexander stated, "Duane will forever be regarded as one of the real hard men of South African rugby – he was not only a formidable force for the Springboks, but also a multifaceted player who consistently delivered his best." 

Alexander also highlighted Vermeulen's leadership qualities, having captained South Africa in four tests. 

Moreover, he retires as the most-capped Springbok No. 8, with two Rugby World Cup winners' medals, a testament to his legendary status in the sport. 

Vermeulen's impact on South African rugby will be celebrated for generations to come.