Springboks' Rugby World Cup winner Beast Mtawarira retires from international game

Rugby World Cup winner Tendai Mtawarira has announced his retirement from the international game, bowing out as the most capped prop in South African rugby history.

The 34-year-old, whose ball carries led to affectionate chants of 'Beast' in stadiums around the world, was a standout performer as the Springboks defeated England 32-12 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama on Saturday, the last of his 117 Tests.

He won a number of scrum penalties on the loose-head side as South Africa dominated the set-piece to lay the platform for their third World Cup title.

"I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by many top coaches at the Springboks and the Sharks, and grateful to my numerous team mates in green and gold, and black and white, over the years," Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira said in a statement from South African Rugby.

"But most of all, to my wife, Kuziva, and our two beautiful children, Talumba and Wangu, for sacrificing so much to allow me to chase my dreams. I really appreciate it immensely.

"I've been blessed to have been part of teams that achieved so much success over the years, and I have many memories to cherish forever, but I can honestly say that winning the Rugby World Cup is the perfect ending and cherry on top."

Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, paid tribute to Mtawarira, saying "'Beast is someone who never complained, always put in the hard work and simply got on with his job in his typically unassuming way".

"When he first got an opportunity at the Sharks, he rode a bicycle to training, which perfectly sums up not only his humbleness, but his desire to make it to the top. He worked very hard to achieve what he has and we're all very proud of him," Alexander said.

"'Beast', thank you for what you've done for South African rugby, to show that Springboks can indeed be gentle giants, and for never putting your own interests above that of the team. We salute you and will miss you in green and gold."

Mtawarira retires as the third-most capped Springboks player behind former lock Victor Matfield (127 caps) and wing Bryan Habana (124).

He won his first cap in 2008.

He also has made the most appearances of any South African in Super Rugby, having played 159 games, all for the Durban-based Sharks.