Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby World Cup after suffering a fracture to his jaw in the pool match against Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday.
Heyneke Meyer, coach of the Springboks, described this latest injury to De Villiers as a massive set-back. Jan Serfontein has been called up and will join the squad in Newcastle on Monday. An announcement on the captaincy for the match against Scotland will be made on Wednesday.
“Jean is not only our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but he is also the glue of this team and to lose him is very sad,” said Meyer.
“After injuring his knee last November in Cardiff, he worked incredibly hard to get back to full fitness and the plans worked out perfectly, but rugby is a physical sport and injuries happen.
“We are all very heart-broken for him and we will miss his influence a lot. He has been very unlucky with injuries, but his character clearly showed when he had to go back on the field when Jesse Kriel picked up an injury.
“Jean has fought back from all his injuries and this is the kind of character and fighting spirit we will need to show going forward in this competition.
“While this is a huge and emotional set-back for the team, we will now have to regroup and refocus before we start our preparations for Saturday’s match against Scotland.”
Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said the fracture was on the opposite side of De Villiers’ jaw to the first injury sustained against Argentina in Durban in August.
“Jean took a heavy blow to the right side of his jaw in the 72nd minute of the match,” said Roberts. “X-rays and scans after the game confirmed our fears that it was fractured. The left side of his jaw was fractured on the previous occasion. He will return to South Africa for further specialist treatment.
“Apart from Jean’s injury, there were a lot of bumps and bruises following a very physical match but we will re-assess those in the next day or two.”