Johannesburg – The SA Rugby Union (Saru) has confirmed the death on Friday of former Springbok loose forward Jan Ellis.

The one-time joint record holder for the number of Springbok caps died of cancer aged 71 at a hospice in Pretoria.

Ellis was ranked as an all-time Springbok great and was one of the outstanding loose forwards of his era.

He took part in 38 of the 39 Tests the Springboks played between his debut in 1965 and his final Test in 1976.

“Our condolences go to Jan's family and his friends,” said Saru president Oregan Hoskins.

“Jan Ellis was one of the greatest Springbok loose forwards of any era. He was one of those unbelievably tough Springbok forwards for which our country is renowned.”

“He was a fixture in the Springbok team for more than a decade and will be fondly remembered by the older generation,” said Hoskins.

Ellis was born in Brakpan, but moved to the then South West Africa (Namibia) as a child, and attended school in the sheep and cattle farming town of Gobabis.

He won selection for South West Africa and earned a place at Springbok trials having played at lock against the 1964 British and Irish Lions.

He earned his first cap on the Springbok tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1965, making his Test debut in the first of four Tests against New Zealand in Wellington, at the age of 22. Sapa