Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen who has been suffering from motor neuron disease since 2011, has reportedly kicked the proverbial bucket.
The former Springbok scrumhalf and captain Joost van der Westhuizen died on Monday afternoon. He was 45 years old.
The legend has been battling the disease since 2011. However, the disease seems to have taken its toll on him as his health has been deteriorating over the years. He was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital on Saturday morning. And subsequently, he was placed on life support after his key organs began to fail as a result of the effects of motor neuron disease.
Van der Westhuizen died despite stabilising and showing signs of acknowledging those around him.
The former Springbok had fought a public battle against the illness‚ which attacks the body’s neurons. His battle saw the birth of a foundation that will help fight the deadly disease.
The sad news of the Rugby star’s death was confirmed on Monday by J9 Foundation (the organisation he helped establish to fight the disease that has claimed his life) and a source at SA Rugby.
According to the J9 foundation, he was “putting up an incredible fight” over the weekend. “He really is our Superman!”
The much-celebrated Springbok was mourned by celebrities who took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to pay tribute.
Here are some of the tributes to Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen;
https://twitter.com/Eusebius/status/828585314184736769 https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/828581631824891906 https://twitter.com/liezelv/status/828578199806287872 https://twitter.com/bonang_m/status/828584536409767936 https://twitter.com/LeeAnn_L/status/828584879642255360 https://twitter.com/Janez_Vermeiren/status/828586269462712320 https://twitter.com/OneSadie/status/828577574959865860
Perhaps the world’s greatest scrumhalf as he’s fondly called by many, Van der Westhuizen enjoyed a very successful career. He was a 1995 Rugby World Cup winner which the Springboks famously won 15-12 after extra time against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
He earned 89 Test caps and scored 38 Test tries‚ a record he maintained until Bryan Habana broke it at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Joost captained the Boks 10 times‚ which included the 1999 World Cup team‚ when South Africa finished third.
He will forever hold a special place in our hearts.