Stormers' high quality leader will be 'sorely missed'
NEWS: Veteran Stormers lock Chris van Zyl has decided to walk off into the proverbial sunset.
The 34-year-old, who captained the Stormers against the Cheetahs in their first match at their new home, the Cape Town Stadium, back in February, on Wednesday announced his retirement from the game.
Having started his first-class career with the Lions in 2013, he returned to Cape Town in 2015 and made more than 100 appearances for Western Province and the Stormers.
“The time has come for me to exit the game that I love on my terms and to enter the next chapter of my life,” Van Zyl said in a post on his social media channels.
“It’s not the end, but only the beginning.”
Stormers coach John Dobson described the stalwart as one of the most outstanding people he had the good fortune to work with.
Chris, nicknamed pickles, is the younger brother of Anton (nicknamed Worms), who followed the same path – a short stint with the Lions in Johannesburg, then a lengthy career of many highs in Cape Town.
“At the end of 2014, I left Johannesburg with a broken heart,” the younger Van Zyl said, adding: “My then short-lived professional rugby career had seemingly come to an abrupt end.
“Upon returning to Cape Town, my eyes were opened to what I never believed possible: a high-performance environment that supported a united brotherhood, an understanding of community, inspired by our roots and driven to write our own story.”
Dobson, speaking to @rugby365com, described Van Zyl as a “high-quality leader” and rugby player, who was always very professional.
“He got the balance right between very professional and detail focussed,” the Stormers coach told this website.
“He looked after himself excellently, but was also a team man off the field.
“He was completely respected by coaching staff and peers – probably one of the best captains I ever worked with.
“Chris will be very sorely missed.”
Dobson said he doesn’t think people always appreciated his ability on the field.
“He was a classic, traditional, hard-working lock – who could make 20 or 30 tackles a game and hit 40 rucks – all that unseen work.
“He was also a master in the line-outs.”
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“It’s not the end, it is the beginning.” 💙 pic.twitter.com/IWAyxnOOzx
— Chris van Zyl (@Chris_van_Zyl) April 7, 2021