Spring­boks World Cup winner Van der Westhuizen dies at 45

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM -

Joost van der Westhuizen, who won the 1995 World Cup with South Africa as Nel­son Man­dela looked on, has died after a sixyear-bat­tle with mo­tor neu­ron dis­ease. He was 45.

SA Rugby an­nounced the death on Mon­day.

The scrumhalf dis­tin­guished him­self in the epic fi­nal with a scyth­ing tackle on Jonah Lomu, New Zealand’s colos­sal wing, and by de­liv­er­ing the pass to Joel Stran­sky for the win­ning dropped goal in ex­tra time.

The emo­tional 15-12 vic­tory helped rally South Africans of all colours be­hind a na­tion emerg­ing from apartheid.

Newly elected Pres­i­dent Man­dela fa­mously donned a Spring­bok jersey and de­light­edly waved clenched fists as cap­tain Fran­cois Pien­aar lifted the Webb Ellis Cup. The drama in­spired Clint East­wood’s movie “In­vic­tus.’’

“South Africa has lost a leg­end and one of the best rugby play­ers that the coun­try has ever pro­duced,’’ said South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. “On be­half of the Gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of South Africa, our heart­felt con­do­lences to Mr van der Westhuizen’s fam­ily. May his soul rest in peace.’’

SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der said he would be re­mem­bered as one of the great­est Spring­boks. “He also be­came an in­spi­ra­tion and hero to many fel­low suf­fer­ers of this ter­ri­ble dis­ease as well as to those un­af­fected.”

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