Delport calls it quits

2014-10-18 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Springbok Sevens veteran Paul Delport has retired from a celebrated rugby career after a tough run with injuries.

After 11 years of professional rugby, Delport has called it a day.

The 30-year-old can look back to an accomplished career in XVs and Sevens rugby, having played at the top levels in both formats.

He showed great leadership characteristics from a young age, captaining SACS first XV, Western Province U18s and SA Schools in 2002. He continued his impressive progress as a youth player, helping the SA U19s and SA U21s to the world titles in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

He made his Super Rugby debut in 2004 for the Cats, and continued his senior career in Cape Town for the Stormers and Western Province.

In 2008, Delport made the decision to switch to sevens, which proved to be an exciting chapter.

Under the mentorship of then coach Paul Treu, he quickly developed into one of the leaders in the Springbok Sevens squad. He did not only make an impact on the field, but he was one of the important role players behind sevens rugby’s growth in the country.

Delport sees his contribution to South African sevens rugby as his legacy that he’ll leave behind.

“During my career, I’ve experienced many highs and lows. It’s disappointing that injuries have forced me to retire, but I guess that’s part of the game. After five operations on my right knee and a serious back injury, I was advised to end my career,” he said.

“My most memorable moments are playing Super Rugby and winning the U19 and U21 titles for South Africa.

“My career highlights definitely happened during my time with the Springbok Sevens. Winning our first home tournament in George was an awesome experience, as well as the 2008/09 campaign, which saw us achieve the World Series title.

“It’s been a privilege being able to grow the name of sevens in South Africa, along with guys like Frankie Horn, Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez, who sacrificed their hopes of a XVs career to turn South African sevens rugby into a professional sport.

“To see how much respect sevens has gained and how it has grown over the past few years, and the positive direction it is currently on, I can look back proudly. For Bryan Habana, a 100-capped Springbok, to show interest in playing for the Springbok Sevens emphasises this.”

Delport passed on thanks to the Rugby Players’ Organisation for their contribution during this challenging time.

“The Rugby Players’ Organisation have been awesome, especially during the times of serious injury and my retirement plans,” said Delport.

“They have given me guidance and advice, and have ensured things like contract insurance were sorted out. Retirement isn’t easy, but they helped make the process easier for me.”

So what does Delport have planned now?

He hopes to continue his contribution to sevens rugby, while he’s also exploring a few business and study opportunities.

“Neil Powell and Marius Schoeman, who were once my team-mates, now lead the way in terms of the development of South African sevens rugby. They ensure the structures are in place to achieve further growth,” said Delport.

“I would love to help out at the SA Sevens Academy, which has gone on to produce talents like Justin Geduld, Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok and Seabelo Senatla.

“These guys are the future of South African rugby, in XVs and sevens, and it’s a great compliment to the guys who have helped to make this all happen. I see sevens rugby as my legacy, and I would love to remain involved.”

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