The two most-capped Springboks ever, John Smit and Victor Matfield, bid an emotional farewell to Test rugby after the Boks lost in their RWC quarter-final to Australia on Sunday.
The Wallabies won 11-9 in Wellington, with James Horwill scoring a try and James O'Connor adding two penalty goals. For the Boks, Morne Steyn kicked two penalty goals and a drop goal.
Smit, who is continuing his career with Saracens in England, called Matfield "the greatest Springbok ever" after the match, adding he was "devastated" to be stepping down after seven years as captain of the 2007 world champions.
"I could sit here for an hour speaking about the value and contribution he has made to South Africa," Smit said after the match at Wellington Regional Stadium.
"Today, again, colossal in the lineouts, leadership sublime, always making sure the right calls are made, his composure.
"I think the most valuable thing about Victor is how he makes the players around him feel. When he's picked in the side, there's a calmness about him, a composure that he possesses, and hopefully the youngsters will have learned from that and will have taken it forward.
"He's a huge player. In my opinion, the greatest Springbok that's ever been."
Smit, capped 111 times for South Africa, said: "I have been blessed to be in charge of these guys and run out with them and blessed to be captain of the Springboks.
"I am devastated today. It's the end of a chapter and I am proud of the guys I have played with and really proud to have been a Springbok."
Matfield, who is retiring from all rugby and played 110 Tests for South Africa, said: "I think I'm going to miss it. I love this game. It has been my life over the last 12 years, so it's going to be tough."