Springbok Sevens stalwart Kyle Brown has retired from international sevens rugby after three HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles with the Blitzboks and 69 tournaments in the Green and Gold, where he played in 347 matches and scored 89 tries for a career total of 445 points.
The 32-year-old Brown made his debut for the Blitzboks in the 2008/09 season in Dubai and also captained the side for two seasons, with his last stint as skipper coming in Singapore in 2018.
Brown captained the team to an historic first gold medal in Rugby Sevens at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and also won bronze with Team South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Brown was named in the tournament Dream Team afterwards.
As a Blitzbok, Brown was part of all three Springbok Sevens squads that won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the 2008/09, 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.
Brown became the most capped South African in the World Series when he represented the Blitzboks for the 69th time at the HSBC Sydney Sevens earlier this year, moving past the long-standing mark held by Frankie Horne. That was also his last appearance for the team and his tally has since been bettered by Branco du Preez, who played in his 71sttournament in Paris last weekend.
Complimenting Brown on an exceptional career, SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, said the former Blitzbok forward was a true ambassador to the sport and his country.
“Kyle served his country exceptionally well and we were privileged to have a player and person of his calibre representing us,” said Mr Alexander.
“He led from the front and with his humble and engaging style as captain, helped establish the Blitzboks as one of the country’s most liked sports teams.
“The Blitzboks’ team culture is much revered and respected by all in our sporting fraternity and Brown, as a player and a captain, helped drive those values. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said Brown will leave a void, but also a legacy.
“I was privileged enough to play with Kyle and later coach him and in both roles, he remained a gentleman, a friend and a player who cares deeply for the Blitzboks,” said Powell.
“Few people realise how hard he had to work to get back into contention after two consecutive knee operations. He showed tremendous guts and determination to regain his competitive edge following those injuries, and did so with such a positive mind-set that it enhanced the Blitzboks on the world stage.”
Powell thanked Brown for his impact on the Blitzboks: “Both as a player and a person, the Blitzboks are in a better place because of the impact Kyle had on those around him. He will be remembered as one of the legends of the game, not only in South Africa, but all around the world.”
For Brown, time flew by.
“I played my first tournament with the team in December 2008, not knowing that this team would become my home for the last 11 years and my entire professional career,” he said.
“The last decade has passed quicker than I could have imagined, I have traveled to some incredible destinations and enjoyed experiences that some could only dream of, for that I will always be grateful.
“I have been fortunate to have ridden this roller coaster that is sevens rugby through many unforgettable moments. Some highlights are medaling at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and taking our home tournaments in George, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.”
Brown added: “People always want to know what is special about this team, the answer is seemingly simple – the people. People have always been the heart and soul of this team, and the dominant reason why I have stayed with this team for so long.
“People shape this team and the team continuously shapes them, it’s a cycle that I have always admired and hope that it continues on the progressive path that it has been on. To the special group of players who have come and gone, and to those that remain, thank you for creating the perfect environment to call home.”
Brown also thanked SA Rugby and the sponsors for creating a platform for the Blitzboks to express themselves on the world stage over many seasons.
“Without your belief and support in this system, it’s unlikely that we would have progressed to the place we find ourselves in today,” said Brown.
“I would like to thank Paul Treu for giving me the opportunity back in 2008, I will always be grateful. And to Neil Powell, for taking the Springbok Sevens to new heights. Words don’t adequately capture the impact you have had on my life.
“There genuinely are too many people to thank, but most importantly, to my family – Tarryn, Ethan, Olivia and Mom and Dad – thank you for everything you gave and sacrificed so that I could pursue my dream, you will always mean the world to me.”