Heyneke Meyer has decided to stand down as South Africa coach.
The South African Rugby Union announced on its official Twitter feed that Meyer had advised them he no longer wished to be considered as a candidate to coach the Springboks.
Meyer, whose contract expired at the end of this month, led South Africa to third place in the recent Rugby World Cup, but the Springboks also suffered a shock 34-32 defeat against Japan in their opening pool game.
SARU said on its official website that Meyer had expressed his desire to step down following a recent meeting with SARU president Oregan Hoskins and chief executive Jurie Roux.
Meyer took over as Springboks head coach after the 2011 World Cup, overseeing 34 victories in 50 Tests, which included one win against world champions New Zealand and two runners-up finishes in the Rugby Championship.
He had previously enjoyed prolonged success with the Pretoria-based Bulls, while he he also spent time in charge of Aviva Premiership club Leicester.
"I have always put the Springboks first in my time as coach, and since returning from England I have realised that as much as I believe I still have a lot to offer, the time has come for change," Meyer, 48, told www.sarugby.net.
"My integrity has always been very important, and I feel I can leave with my head held high. I've always maintained that my only motivation was to serve my country and to do what was best for the Springboks.
"I have greatly enjoyed my time as Springbok coach, although it has been highly-pressured at times and especially tough on my family, and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support in the last four years.
"I have put my heart and soul into the job and did my very best. I believe that, overall, I leave the team with much to look forward to in 2016, with new structures in place to ensure the Springboks will remain competitive on the world stage.
"The number of young players that have been blooded over the past four seasons, who chose to remain in South Africa, leave the team in a great position to move on in the next few years. I would like to wish the next coach all the success in this wonderful position.
"The Springboks are a special team, and carrying the hopes of a nation is a huge responsibility and great privilege. I realised that yet again with all the support I received from ordinary South Africans, both at the World Cup and upon our return to the country.
"Thank you to the countless faithful, positive and passionate supporters that have made my job as coach a joy, to everyone at SARU, and for the hard work and commitment of my management and support team, I will be forever thankful.
"And finally to the players - you are ultimately the reason why I coach, and you've enriched my life in the last four years."
SARU said that the search for a successor would begin immediately, and Hoskins paid tribute to Meyer, describing him as someone who "gave his all."
Hoskins said: "We have reached a natural watershed in many ways with a significant number of senior players either retiring or moving overseas, as well as the fact that our strategic transformation plan is now in full swing.
"Heyneke gave his all for the Springboks, and it was a great pleasure to work with such a passionate South African.
"There were many highlights during his time as coach, and those are the moments we will remember.
"He also set very high standards of behaviour for himself, his management team and his players, and he was, and is, a credit to South African rugby.
"I am sure all my colleagues join me in wishing him the very best of luck in whatever coaching path his career now takes him."
There are no indications about what Meyer might do next, although it will not go unnoticed that new England boss Eddie Jones has yet to announce the make-up of his coaching support staff.
Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt currently remain in England assistant coaching positions they held during a failed World Cup campaign under the direction of Stuart Lancaster, but it is widely expected that Jones will make changes ahead of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, which starts on February 6.
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