Chris van Zyl a ’true Province man’, says John Dobson
CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach John Dobson has paid tribute to “true Province man” Chris van Zyl, who announced his retirement on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old Stormers and Western Province veteran made 72 appearances for WP and has run out for the Stormers in 42 Super Rugby games.
The vastly-experienced lock – who has been doubling up as a leader for Province and managing director at his consulting company – obtained his qualification at the University of Stellenbosch and represented Maties, before going to Johannesburg to do his articles and qualify as a chartered accountant.
He returned to Cape Town in 2015 and got his first opportunity for Province the following year, leading the team to 13 wins from 14 games in the Currie Cup Qualifiers and their 34th Currie Cup title in 2017 – their first trophy since 2014.
Now, Van Zyl, who comes from a rugby-loving family, is looking forward to a new beginning.
“At the end of 2014, I left Johannesburg with a broken heart, my then short-lived professional rugby career had seemingly come to an abrupt end,’ Van Zyl said in a statement on social media.
“Little did I know that this was not the end, only the beginning …
“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.
“Through liquidation, ‘unwanted-player’ lists and stadium changes, our love for the Blue and White hoops never ended. My dream had always been to represent the Stormers and Western Province. I am honoured to have been afforded this opportunity and have had the opportunity to lead the team. My overriding emotion is one of endless gratitude.
“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. Once again, it’s not the end, but only the beginning.”
Dobson said that working with Van Zyl has been one of the highlights of his coaching career so far.
"Chris embodies what it means to be a true 'Province man'. He always put the needs of the team above his own and had a positive influence on everyone he worked with here,” he said.
"His family can be proud of the way he represented them and there are many players who can learn from his example, both in terms of his passion and values and in the way he has set himself up for life after rugby. We can only wish him all the best and thank him for his countless contributions.”