Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok loose forward Francois Louw has called time on an outstanding international career.
The 34-year-old announced the decision after capping a ten-year Test journey with a winner’s medal in Saturday’s 32-12 victory over England at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
Affectionately known as ‘Flo’, Louw made 76 Test appearances in a decade playing at the highest level.
He came off the bench in the final against England, adding 2019 gold to the bronze he won in 2015. Louw appeared in three Rugby World Cup tournaments.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling career with the Springboks,” said Louw, “and I bow out with a full heart”.
A good old shift
Peter de Villiers gave Louw his first Springbok callup and he debuted against Wales in 2010. He went on to be selected by each of the subsequent three coaches, whilst being based overseas with English club Bath, for whom he is in his ninth season.
Louw notched 10 Test tries across his career, the last of them against Namibia in this year’s Rugby World Cup. He was a key member of the ‘Bomb Squad’ at the 2019 tournament coming on at crucial times either at the back of the scrum or at flank. In the final he replaced skipper Siya Kolisi.
“Flo [Francois Louw] was a real warrior of the back row,” said Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s director of rugby.
“He was always ready to go where the fire was hottest and was the kind of tough-minded character that you’d always want beside you. He didn’t take a step backwards ever.
“He has been a tremendous servant of South African rugby and we’re losing a lot with his retirement, not just in how he played, but in the calmness, insight and character that he brought to the group.”
Francois Louw’s Springbok pedigree
Louw was born in Cape Town to a rugby family – his grandfather, Jan Pickard, was a Springbok and a former president of Western Province. He attended Bishops school in Cape Town and graduated through the ranks of Western Province to make his senior professional debut in 2006.
South Africa’s back row Francois Louw (R) congratulates New Zealand’s number 8 Kieran Read after the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between New Zealand and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on September 21, 2019. (Photo by Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP)
He made 53 Super Rugby appearances for the Stormers – including an appearance in the 2010 Final – before pursuing his career in England.
“I’ve had an amazing journey in international rugby,” said Louw.
“I’ve made friends for life in the game and created incredible memories with great people.
“To end it as part of the Springbok Trophy Tour and see the joy and excitement we have brought to people’s lives is an incredible way to bow out.”