RIP Dr Ismail Jakoet: A ‘giant amongst men’ in rugby administration, says Mark Alexander
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CAPE TOWN — “A big tree has fallen.” That was how SA Rugby Union president Mark Alexander described the passing of Dr Ismail Jakoet on Tuesday at the age of 72.
Jakoet had a long history in the sports fraternity and medical community, and his last post at SA Rugby was as the company secretary before his retirement in 2016.
“He always put South Africa first, and played an active role in breaking down the barriers which kept South Africans from different races apart on the rugby field, which will be one of the legacies he leaves behind,” Alexander said in a statement on Tuesday.
“He supported other teams, but from the day the playing fields were level, his heart was finally with the Springboks.”
Jakoet hailed from District Six, and matriculated from Harold Cressy High School in 1965. He studied medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and qualified as a doctor in 1973, while also achieving a Masters in Sports Science from the University of Pretoria in 1993.
He moved to Port Elizabeth in 1975, and got involved in rugby administration, later becoming the vice-president of Eastern Province under the non-racial Saru banner, where he also served the national structure as a treasurer.
Following unification in 1992, Jakoet moved back to Cape Town and was appointed as the medical manager at the then-SA Rugby Football Union, before becoming the company secretary in 2006 until his retirement in 2016.
He also played a major part in creating the Petro Jackson Memorial Fund for injured rugby players, which later merged with the Chris Burger Players Fund.
“Dr Jakoet played a massive role when we unified almost 30 years ago, and his role in uniting our game all those years ago, and serving rugby ever since until his retirement in 2016, can never be underestimated,” Alexander said.
“Miley was a scrumhalf in his playing days, and while he may not have been the biggest player on the field, he was a giant amongst men in the field of rugby administration. A big tree in the world of rugby, sport and medicine, here in South Africa but also abroad, has fallen.
“Such was his standing in the South African sporting landscape that former minister of sport Steve Tshwete sent Doc Jakoet and Raymond Hack abroad to investigate how international anti-doping bodies operate, which allowed them to form the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport in 1998, and Doc Jakoet then also served as the first chairman of SAIDS, playing a pivotal role there.
“Doc Jakoet knew the game inside and out, having worked with many presidents during often trying times, but he never put his own interests above that of what was important for rugby, and served with wisdom, calmness and integrity.
“Our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Yasmin, their children, grandchildren, other family and friends, and thank you for allowing Doc Jakoet to serve the game we all love, making such a massive difference to the lives of many here in South Africa.
“To the family of our beloved Doc Jakoet, we pray that Almighty Allah grant him Jannatul Firdaus.”
Jakoet also worked with World Rugby on various medical committees, and was the chief medical officer at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the All Africa Games in Zimbabwe in the same year, as well as for Team SA at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, and an observer for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.