The Springboks' Chester Williams was a special player.
The Springboks' Chester Williams was a special player.

Trailblazing Springboks icon dies aged 49

SOUTH Africa rugby legend Chester Williams has died from a heart attack at the age of 49.

Williams was famously the only black player in the Springboks squad that won the Rugby World Cup on home soil in 1995.

Paarl-born Williams scored 14 tries in 27 Tests during an international career that spanned seven years and ended in 2000.

Williams remained involved in rugby after his retirement in 2001 and had been employed as head coach for the University of Western Cape following coaching stints in Super Rugby and with the South Africa Sevens.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander revealed his shock after hearing Williams had died in Cape Town on Friday afternoon.

"The news of Chester's passing is devastating and hard to believe, as he was still young and seemingly in good health," Alexander said.

"Chester was a true pioneer in South African rugby and his performances at the World Cup in 1995, as a snapshot of his Springbok career, will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of our rugby public.

 

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"As a member of the Springbok class of 1995, Chester was not only well known in the rugby fraternity, but he was a much-loved South African whose influence stretched wider than just the rugby world.

"He was passionate about rugby and South Africa and as coach, at various levels, selflessly gave back to the game after he hung up his boots. He played with courage and was a beacon of light in his community and in the broader South African context.

"Chester Williams had so much more to give. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Maria, his children, family and friends during this very sad time."

Chester Williams was famously the only black player in the triumphant 1995 Springboks squad.
Chester Williams was famously the only black player in the triumphant 1995 Springboks squad.

Williams' death comes less than two months after the passing of his former teammate and fellow World Cup winner James Small, who also died of a heart attack, aged 50.

Williams is the fifth member of that squad to die, following Small, coach Kitch Christie, scrum-half Joost Van Der Westhuizen and flanker Ruben Kruger.

News of Williams' death came on the day South Africa beat Japan 41-7 in their final World Cup warm-up match before this year's tournament.

- This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission

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