JOHANNESBURG – Springbok stars, both past and present, teammates, and members of the public have begun arriving for the funeral of World Cup winning Springbok rugby player James Small at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Former Springbok teammates Rudolf Straeuli, Gary Teichmann and Andre Pretorius were all in attendance, as was current Bok captain Siya Kolisi.
Small died in Johannesburg from a heart attack at the age of 50 on July 10.
A prolific wing during his playing career, Small played 47 Tests for the Springboks from 1992 and 1997.
He scored a then-record 20 Test tries.
Small was a key member of the 1995 Springbok side which won the Rugby World Cup on home soil, beating New Zealand 15-12 in the final at Ellis Park, where he was lauded for his ability to mark the giant All Black wing Jonah Lomu.
Teichmann said it was a “very sad day to lose James, as he was still so young and had so much still to offer”.'
“How we must remember him, his passion for people, the game, and the Springboks. If we remember that, then we honour him.”
Kolisi, the current Springbok skipper, also described Thursday as a “very sad day”.
“Small guys that you think they won’t make it because rugby is a big man’s sport, the challenges that he had to play against Jonah Lomu and how he just handled himself… Guys like Cheslin (Kolbe) who are very small, Herschel Jantjies who are also doing the same thing.”
Jantjies will make his Springbok debut on Saturday, and Kolisi said Small was a role model for many in the sport.
“I met him a couple of times, and what a positive human being, always had words of encouragement. Those are the memories.”
African News Agency (ANA), Staff Writer