By Bugsy / Sports / 6th February 2017
A true Champion, Joost van der Westhuizen is no longer with us. He lost the only fight he could never win on Monday, when he died at the age of 45. Once South Africa’s most-capped Springbok, record try scorer and captain of the national team. There was nothing this little pocket rocket hadn’t achieved, but his fight against MND (Motor Neuron Disease) was one that he couldn’t overcome.
Van der Westhuizen’s career was a stellar one, with trophies galore as he was part of the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup winning team, captained the Blue Bulls to the Currie Cup title in 1998 and 2002 and led the Springboks into battle at the World Cup in 1999, retiring at the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2003 as South Africa’s most capped player.
Through out the course of his debilitating disease he inspired millions with his never give up attitude and brought new-found attention to a disease that still has no cure. This marks the third player from the 1995 Rugby World Cup final to die, following Ruben Kruger (brain cancer) and Jonah Lomu (kidney failure).
He will never be forgotten. We just hope theres some great rugby being played up there.
Joost van der Westhuizen fact-file
Date of birth: 20 February 1971 in Pretoria
High school: FH Odendaal, Pretoria
Tertiary education: University of Pretoria
Province: Blue Bulls
Springbok number: 593
Position: Scrumhalf (87 tests) Wing (2 tests)
Test debut: 6 November 1993 v Argentina in Buenos Aires
Last test: 8 November 2003 v New Zealand in Melbourne
Total tests: 89
Test tries: 38 (he became the SA record-holder on 18 July 1998 against Australia in Perth with his 21st test try and his record was broken by Bryan Habana on 22 September 2011 with his 39th test try, against Namibia in Albany.
Win ratio in tests: 60-28-1
Tour matches: 22
Total Springbok matches: 111
Total Springbok tries: 56
Honours: SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 & 1999); SA Rugby Young Player of the Year nominee (1992).