The Blitzboks are in a better place because of the impact Kyle Brown has had on those around him. That was the tribute paid to the former captain by coach Neil Powell upon his retirement on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Brown, who has battled back courageously from a number of knee injuries, finally hung up his boots after a superb 11-year sevens career with the national team.
A former openside flank for UCT, Brown was one of the mainstays of the Springbok Sevens team for a number of years, having played in his first tournament in December 2008 in Dubai.
He eventually set the record for most events – 69 – which has since been passed by Branco du Preez a few weeks ago at the London Sevens.
Powell also played with Brown, and said that his former teammate is a legend of the game.
“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,” Powell said on Wednesday.
“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 mindset that it enhanced the Blitzboks on the world stage.
“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.”
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) June 5, 2019
Following his success in the shorter format, Brown opted not to return to the 15-man game, despite his prowess at the breakdown in particular being a skill that would’ve come in handy in Super Rugby and even the Springboks.
“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,” Brown said on Wednesday.
“The last decade has passed quicker than I could have imagined, I have travelled 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 medalling at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and taking our home tournaments in George, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Thanks for giving the jersey everything you could(and some) and for leading by example throughout @kylegbrown 🙌🏽
It was an absolute blast and privilege getting to share the field with you, although briefly.
Much respect and here’s wishing you the best in the next chapter 👊🏽 https://t.co/dNDWzCmHHE
— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) June 5, 2019
“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.
“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.”