Ben Smith Rugby World Cup is the last hurrah for a bunch of greats

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Rugby World Cups can be a bathtub of tears.

Of the 20 competing teams, 19 will have their hopes dashed. The 20th team won’t be immune, either, as the champion sheds tears of joy.

But every team has players who know they are not only playing their last Rugby World Cup, but also their last match for their country.

With only the final and bronze matches remaining, some rugby luminaries are in the final week of their careers.

The chance to go out in glory in Saturday’s final has been earned by the likes of South Africa’s Schalk Brits, Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Steyn, and England prop Joe Marler. None have said they’re retiring but expectations are they will.

Steyn could become only the second Springbok to win two Rugby World Cups, after Os du Randt, a teammate in the 2007 squad. Steyn missed the 2015 Rugby World Cup following the death of his brother, and he didn’t expect to play in another until he was summoned in July by coach Rassie Erasmus.

“I’m at a stage now where you know there is not going to be 10 more years to make a wrong right,” Steyn said. “So I get a little bit more serious before a test match.”

Marler already retired once, but changed his mind 10 months later.

“I have worked my buns off to try to get back into an emotional and mental state capable of contributing to the squad the best I can,” he said. “And the physical state, too, that has been even harder.”

Friday’s bronze playoff between New Zealand and Wales will mark the last appearances in an All Blacks jersey for captain Kieran

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