The guts of the piece was that we never forget these players and their heroics in beating the All Blacks 15-12 in a 100-minute thriller; that we always remain thankful for the memories they created on that glorious day. Two of those warriors had passed in Ruben Kruger and Joost van der Westhuizen. Now a third is gone with the death of James Small; the man who was tasked with marking the (late) giant All Blacks left winger Jonah Lomu.
Small, just 50 years old, died of a heart attack on Wednesday. The news shocked the rugby community, whose visual image is of a primed athlete at the peak of his powers in 1995.
Social media was saturated with tributes to Small, who played 47 Tests for the Springboks and over 100 matches for the Sharks, Western Province, the (Western) Stormers and the Lions in a career that spanned a decade. One deserves to be retold in mainstream print. It comes from @Oom_Rugby, one of my favourites when it comes to who I follow on Twitter.
@Oom_Rugby posted the following (sic): “Here is a story James told me just after he had the suicide attempt in 2001. He went to stay at his mother’s home to get away from the media and the glaring. Nobody could get hold of him and most people didn’t even know where he was. Then the phone rings and his mother answers it.