Mr Mark Alexander, President of the South African Rugby Union, said the decision was mutually agreed in the wake of speculation about Roux’s future.

“Jurie Roux has consistently emphasised his loyalty to the organisation and his desire to do what is in its best interests,” said Mr Alexander.

The process to appoint a successor would be advised in due course while an acting CEO would be confirmed before the end of the month.

Mr Alexander said the decision had been mutually agreed during 2022 with Roux’s tenure concluding at the end of the year. Mr Alexander said: “I have never doubted Jurie’s commitment to SA Rugby and this decision was not an easy one for anyone who has worked closely with Jurie for more than a decade – both here and overseas.”

Roux said leading SA Rugby had been a privilege: “The players talk about leaving the jersey in a better condition than when they first received it, and my only hope is that people will say the same of my contribution in time.

“It has been a period of great challenges and some great moments, and I would like to thank my local and international colleagues and our commercial partners for the support they have given to rugby and to me over the past decade.

“I worked with a fantastic group of people daily, and together we have built something amazing that truly unites and inspires our country. Thank you to all the loyal and hardworking staff of SA Rugby; all of you have contributed to the achievements of rugby.”

Roux was appointed CEO in 2010 by the SA Rugby General Council on the recommendation of an independent recruitment panel and is the longest-serving CEO of a major World Rugby federation.

Mr Alexander said that Roux had been an outstanding CEO and leaves the organisation well-placed. He said that Roux had added significant value to the organisation during his tenure in conjunction with the President and the Executive Council.

“Jurie was a key driver along with the President and the Executive Council in the development of SA Rugby’s Strategic Transformation Plan 2030 – which is already paying handsome dividends on and off the field – and a key contributor to South African rugby’s journey to a private equity partnership,” said Mr Alexander.

He said that Roux was at the helm of the organisation when it was hit by outside forces that set in motion two of the worst periods in the history of rugby in South Africa since democracy.

“The first was in 2016 – when the sports ministry acted against several sports, including rugby, over the perceived pace of transformation,” said Mr Alexander. “We were barred from bidding for international events, sponsors turned their backs on us, and the challenges were compounded by poor on-field performances.

“A new direction was crafted to transform the organisation back to winning ways, which was crowned when the Springboks became world champions in 2019 and our subsequent victory in the series against the British & Irish Lions.

“The second challenging period was the COVID-19 pandemic. Our revenues were hard hit due to our non-participation in international competitions. Jurie together with key industry role players, drove through an industry-wide mitigation plan was implemented that went a long way towards saving the game from collapsing.

“Along with the rugby leadership, Jurie has worked consistently on ways to meet new demands and changing trends in entertainment, sport, and rugby, which includes negotiations with an equity partner to fast-track our objectives to further grow our game financially.

“The Springboks and Blitzboks are firmly established among the world’s leading teams; our women’s rugby programme is on an upward trajectory, and we have had success at every age group level on the field; we are likely to gross record sponsorship receipts in 2022.

“We are successfully transitioning to a northern hemisphere future, after negotiating our professional franchises into the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and the European Rugby Championship after New Zealand unceremoniously killed Super Rugby.”

Mr Alexander said that the equity partnership, once concluded, had the potential to enable South African rugby to participate in collaborative marketing opportunities, providing access to new digital platforms and new ways to engage with fans and offer more ways for them to enjoy their rugby.

To ensure business continuity and to complete ongoing initiatives, in the best interests of rugby, Roux will be contracted to complete the implementation of the mooted equity transaction, as well as the handover to his successor, who will be appointed once the equity negotiations are finalised.

Alexander said: “Jurie has delivered top-class service to the organisation throughout his tenure despite the outside pressures on him in recent times. It requires a special skillset to lead an organisation such as ours and he will be hard to replace. It greatly pains me to be making this announcement.

“As an organisation, we wish him well for the future and on behalf of everyone involved in the game, including our rugby-loving supporters and partners, I want to sincerely thank Jurie for his tireless work and commitment. He might be leaving rugby now, but we know he will find success as he did in rugby in whatever he turns his hand to.”