Springboks World Cup winner Van der Westhuizen dies at 45
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.”