BuzzSouthAfrica has confirmed reports about the death of Joost van der Westhuizen.
Yes, is late. He died at the age of 45 following his seven-years struggle with motor neurone disease (MND).
J9 Foundation (mission-ed to educate the public and medical practitioners about Motor Neurone Disease and its devastating effects) confirmed the death of the former South Africa captain.
In a statement, J9 Foundation said: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Joost. He passed away in his home surrounded by his loved ones…”
Also, SA Rugby confirmed Joost van der Westhuizen’s passing saying the South African rugby community is mourning one of South Africa’s greatest-ever Springbok legends.
“Joost van der Westhuizen passed away after a long and courageous struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease…He was 45 and leaves behind two children, Jordan (13) and Kylie (10), as well as his father Gustav, mother Mariana, and brothers Pieter and Gustav,” stated SA Rugby.
Speaking, President of SA Rugby Mark Alexander said: “Joost will be remembered as one of the greatest Springboks – not only of his generation, but of all time.
“As a player, he lifted the Rugby World Cup, Tri-Nations and Currie Cup while establishing himself as one of the best scrumhalves world rugby has ever seen.
“He was the record holder for the most Test tries for the Springboks for more than 13 years and finished his international career with 38 Test tries.
“He also became an inspiration and hero to many fellow sufferers of this terrible disease as well as to those unaffected. We all marveled at his bravery, his fortitude and his uncomplaining acceptance of this terrible burden.
“It’s a sad day for rugby in South Africa and across the globe as we say goodbye to a legend of the Springboks. Our condolences go to his family and friends at this sad, sad time,” asserted Mr Alexander,
Records have it that Joost Heystek van der Westhuizen was born on 20 February 1971 in Pretoria. He attended FH Odendaal High School and the University of Pretoria.
Joost Heystek van der Westhuizen Career
In 1992, he made a provincial debut for the Blue Bulls. He played 144 matches for the Bulls between 1992 and 2002. He was the team captain when they won the Currie Cup in 1998 and in 2002 which was his last season with the Bulls.
At Vodacom Super Rugby level, Van der Westhuizen represented the Vodacom Bulls 28 times between 1998 and 2003.
He played the first of his 89 Springbok Tests in 1993 against Argentina in Buenos Aires. And, captained the Springbok Sevens team at the 1997 Sevens World Cup in Hong Kong where South Africa lost to Fiji in the final.
Van der Westhuizen’s last Test was on 8 November 2003 against New Zealand in Melbourne. It was his third Rugby World Cup tournament.
Aside his 89 Springbok Tests, Joost played 22 tour matches for the Springboks and made a total of 111 appearances.
He captained the Boks in 10 Tests and scored 56 tries in total for the Springboks.
During his career, he was nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999. Prior to those, he was nominated for the Young Player of the Year award in 1992.
Below are the details of his test career as offered by SA Rugby:
Springbok number – 593
Position – Scrumhalf (87 Tests) Wing (2 Tests)
Test debut – 6 November 1993 vs Argentina in Buenos Aires
Last test – 8 November 2003 vs 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 Young Player of the Year nominee (1992); SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 & 1999).
According to the President of SA Rugby, Joost van der Westhuizen “could do things no-one else could.”
“…It was his unpredictability as a scrumhalf that dazzled opponents and gave his supporters so much reason to cheer.
Joost epitomised what it meant to represent South Africa on the rugby field and always showed a remarkable fighting spirit throughout his career, but also in recent years during his illness.
He was a hero and a role model for so many young rugby players in the early years of professionalism and he taught a generation of South Africans what it meant to be a Springbok.
His passion for his country and the Boks will always stand out and he will be sadly missed. To lose a Springbok legend at such a young age is very sad, but his memory will never die. I salute you Joost on behalf of South African rugby.”
It was in 2011 that Joost was diagnosed of MND. Irrespective of that, he was active in charity works designed to help fellow sufferers across the globe.