World Rugby

SA Rugby pays tribute to former World Rugby leader. Photo: Archives

RIP: Tributes to five late, great 1995 Springbok World Cup winners

Following the tragic death of 1995 World Cup winner Hannes Strydom, we reflect on the careers of all five fallen heroes from that campaign.

World Rugby

SA Rugby pays tribute to former World Rugby leader. Photo: Archives

Hannes Strydom has tragically become the latest member of the 1995 Springbok World Cup winning team to pass away, at the age of 58, following Ruben Kruger, Chester Williams, Joost van der Westhuizen and James Small.

RIP: Another 1995 World Cup winning Springbok has died

Below we pay tribute to these Springbok icons

JOOST VAN DER WESTHUIZEN (SCRUMHALF)

Van der Westhuizen added a Tri-Nations and two Currie Cup titles to his honours roll in a career that lasted eight years beyond the 1995 World Cup. He went on to represent the Boks at the 1999 and 2003 World Cups before retiring as the then most-capped Springbok.

Capped 89 times for the Springboks Joost became the country’s first choice scrumhalf in the mid-to-late nineties to early 2000s retiring a rugby legend with a career test try tally of 38 earning him the record of being the scrum-half with the most tries in Test Rugby.

Inducted in the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007 he represented South Africa in three Rugby World Cups in 1995, 1999 and 2003. Of course one of his most iconic moments came during the famous 1995 triumph when he completed an incredible tackle on All Blacks superstar Jonah Lomu.

He is also the only Springbok to captain his country in both the Sevens and the 15-man games in World Cups.

After retirement stint in front of the cameras at SuperSport followed briefly before he moved into other avenues of business.

Van der Westhuizen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011, an illness he fought until he passed away at the age of 45 in 2017. The J9 Foundation, founded in 2012, assists other MND sufferers, and Van der Westhuizen’s family remains actively involved with this charity.

READ | Rugby World Cup 1995: Where are they now – Japie Mulder

RUBEN KRUGER (FLANK)

The man known as the ‘Silent Assassin’ did all his talking on the field. Kruger made his Test debut for the Springboks on the back of several excellent seasons domestically, first with Free State (now known as the Cheetahs) and then with Northern Transvaal (now named the Bulls).

Kruger would go on play in five of the Springboks’ Test at the 1995 RWC, where he scored one try on the team’s way to a fairytale triumph.

He would represent his country four a further fours years, which culminated into another Rugby World Cup appearance at the 1999 showpiece.

After finishing his rugby career in 2000, Kruger established a camera franchise business in Pretoria. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour later that year, and went to Nigeria to seek help from faith healer TB Joshua.

The tumour was removed in 2000 but resurfaced in 2009, and Kruger would die two months before his 40th birthday.

READ | Rugby World Cup 1995: Where are they now – Andre Joubert

CHESTER WILLIAMS (WING)

Chester Mornay Williams was born on 8 August 1970 in Paarl.

Williams played 27 Tests in total for the Springboks scoring 70 points thanks to 14 tries.

He was on the winning side in 20 Tests, while losing six and drawing one for win percentage of 76%.

Williams made his debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires in November 1993 and played his final Test against Wales in Cardiff in November 2000.

Williams rose to fame during South Africa’s march to the 1995 Rugby World Cup title.

An injury prior to the start of the tournament ruled him out of the World Cup, but a suspension to wing Pieter Hendricks, for his part in a brawl against Canada, allowed Williams a reprieve after he had recovered.

He returned to the side with four tries against Samoa in the quarter-finals and maintained his place through to their victory in the final against the All Blacks.

Later in his career Williams was critical of the quota system employed in South African rugby and also spoke out against racism in the national squad in his book Chester.

Williams’s coaching career began shortly after as his playing days ended.

In 2001, he was Boland’s assistant coach and then became coach of the Springbok Sevens team, who he had represented at the World Cup that year.

He was in charge of the Cats in 2004 and 2005, before becoming South Africa ‘A’ and Pumas coach in 2006.

Williams coached abroad in Uganda in 2007, Tunisia in 2008, and two Romanian clubs, Dinamo Bucharest (2008-11) and Timisoara (2012-13).

He finished his diploma in coaching in sports science in 2015 and was appointed marketing director of Forward Africa Petroleum.

As reported by The South African website, he died from a suspected heart attack on 6 September 2019 at the age of 49.

READ | Rugby World Cup 1995: Where are they now – Hennie le Roux

JAMES SMALL (WING)

James Terence Small was born on 10 February 1969 in Cape Town.

Small played 47 Tests in total for the Springboks scoring 100 points thanks to 20 tries.

He was on the winning side in 28 Tests, while losing 17 and drawing two for win percentage of 62%.

Small made his debut against New Zealand in Johannesburg in August 1992 and played his final Test against Scotland in Edinburgh in December 1997.

Small’s marking of All Blacks great Jonah Lomu in the 1995 World Cup final went a long way to helping the Springboks to victory.

Small became a successful restaurateur after retiring from rugby in 1999, owning popular eatery and night spot Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay in Cape Town.

He also had business interests in ADreach, a company specialising in street pole advertising in South Africa.

Small was involved with the Investec Rugby Academy, before being appointed Pukke assistant coach for the 2014 Varsity Cup.

He later joined the Leopards in the Currie Cup First Division as a coaching consultant.

He died on 10 July 2019 in Johannesburg from a heart attack aged 50.

HANNES STRYDOM (LOCK)

Strydom made his Test debut for the Springboks against France in 1993.

Despite playing only on game in the 1994, his performance in the second row was crucial to the Springboks’ success at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

The World Cup final was the 11th appearance in Strydom’s 21-cap career which ultimately ended against Australia in Pretoria in August 1997.

Domestically, the towering second rower turned out for Eastern Province, Northern Transvaal and Transvaal, which later became the Golden Lions.

Strydom’s 14-year career finally came to an end when he retired in 2000.

A qualified pharmacist, he owned and ran a pharmacy chain under the name of Pharma Valu in Pretoria. He also has his own range of vitamins and unique slimming products.

Recently, though, Strydom was at the centre of alleged involvement in the illicit sales of codeine products on the black market. You can see more about that story and his response here

The now 58-year-old former Springbok survived an attempted carjacking and assault in 2014.

In tragic news that emerged on 19 November, it was confirmed that he had died in a car accident.

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