WHEN rugby fans and historians debate the great players of the game, Jonah Lomu will always be near the top of any list. But there will be no debate Lomu, who died suddenly on Wednesday after battling kidney disease for nearly two decades, was the first truly global superstar of the game.
The All Black’s incredible performances at the 1995 Rugby World Cup helped rugby to achieve a new level of worldwide recognition.
Lomu’s exploits directly led to an explosion of television interest in the sport, which led to the formation of the Tri-Nations tournament between the Springboks, the All Blacks and the Wallabies. South African rugby also suffered a loss this week with the death of former Western Province and Springbok centre John Gainsford. A stalwart in the blue-and-white WP jersey, Gainsford played 33 Tests, scoring eight tries for the Boks, and is widely regarded as one of the best centres to have played for his country.
We salute Lomu and Gainsford and offer our condolences to their families.