The brothers, who hail from Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State, both boast more than 400 first class games and played more than 240 games together, including making their Test debuts on the same day, on 7 July 2007 against Australia in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (then called the Tri-Nations) in Sydney.
They followed this up by representing South Africa at the Rugby World Cup tournaments in France (2007), where the team were crowned champions, New Zealand (2011) and England (2015).
Both were part of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship-winning side in 2009, while Bismarck also had the honour of being part of the Springbok squad that won the British & Irish Lions Series in the same year.
They also won the Currie Cup on numerous occasions, Jannie with the Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks, and Bismarck with the KwaZulu-Natalians, and were members of the Montpellier side that won the EPCR Challenge Cup in 2016, while Bismarck also won it with the French club in 2021.
They both made their mark locally for most of their careers before their stints with Montpellier and made their way back to South Africa – Jannie to the Emirates Lions and Bismarck to the Vodacom Bulls – where they finished their careers.
Jannie completed his run with the Johannesburg side at the end of 2022, while Bismarck brought down the curtain on his illustrious career after the Vodacom Bulls dropped out of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final recently, while he played one last Currie Cup game on 10 June.
Both players proved to be great servants of the game to the Springboks with Bismarck boasting 79 Test caps and Jannie 70, while the brothers also played in four non-Tests for South Africa each.
They also played for the SA Under-21 team, Jannie in 2003 and Bismarck in 2005, when South Africa won the U21 World Champs (he was also a member of the SA U19 side that were crowned world champions in 2003).
“I would like to extend a special thank you to Jannie and Bismarck for their immense contributions to the sport in the last 20 years, and for being such loyal servants of rugby and true ambassadors of our country,” said Mr Alexander.
“Very few players have the privilege of playing in more than 70 Test matches. To do so with your brother, featuring in three Rugby World Cups and winning one of them, as well as a host of other titles, is an incredible feat.
“They have been great ambassadors for both South African rugby and the Springboks, carrying the badge with pride on and off the field, and they have been fantastic role models for the young players coming through the ranks.
“On behalf of the entire rugby fraternity I wish them luck for their future endeavors,” added Mr Alexander.
Jannie made his senior provincial debut for the Toyota Cheetahs in 2003 and played at total of 104 matches for the Free Staters in senior competitions and friendlies, before joining Bismarck in Durban, where he played a further 155 matches for the Cell C Sharks. He played 74 times for Montpellier in France and followed that up with 23 appearances for the Emirates Lions.
Bismarck also made his senior provincial debut for the Toyota Cheetahs in 2003, but only played two games for the Free Staters before moving to the Cell C Sharks, where he played in 173 games. He also played twice for the British Barbarians, 37 times for the Vodacom Bulls and 128 games for Montpellier (competitions and friendlies).