BIRMINGHAM • Springboks skipper Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after suffering a fracture to his jaw, an injury coach Heyneke Meyer described as a massive blow to the team.
It happened during South Africa's 46-6 victory over Samoa in a Pool C match in Birmingham on Saturday.
The six-try pounding of the Samoans got their World Cup campaign solidly back on track after falling to a shock 34-32 defeat by Japan in their opening match.
But it marked the second time in two months that de Villiers, winner of 109 caps in an illustrious 13-year international career, has broken his jaw.
The 34-year-old was replaced at Villa Park, only to return to the field again for the closing stages when fellow centre Jesse Kriel was forced off with a cut.
He first fractured it playing in South Africa's first defeat by Argentina last month in Durban.
"Jean is not only our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but he is also the glue of this team and to lose him is very sad," said Meyer.
It was a cruel stroke of luck for the 34-year-old centre, who missed the 2003 World Cup because of a serious knee injury and the 2007 final triumph when he was injured in the opening pool game. He barely made this World Cup after returning from a long layoff from a serious knee injury suffered against Wales last November.
Meyer called up Jan Serfontein as a replacement and he will join the squad in Newcastle today ahead of the Saturday clash against Scotland.