Cape Town – Local rugby fans celebrated a welcome Stormers’ victory against the Reds on Saturday, and paid tribute to former Western Province star Tinus Linee.
The 43-year-old former centre has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) and, during the Stormers’ match at Newlands, fans had the opportunity to donate funds for his treatment and to assist his family.
There were several ways to donate, but the SMS line alone brought in R110 000.
A Western Province Rugby Football Union spokesman said cash collections still had to be counted, adding “the buckets were overflowing”.
Linee, renowned for his hard-hitting tackling, received a rousing welcome from fans when he walked on to the pitch at half-time and mingled with a group of former players.
“The crowd was in full voice and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was a special day for Western Province rugby as the team won and we got to salute a great son,” said the spokesman.
He added: “It was also great to see so many old players on the field and to see everybody coming together for such a worthy cause.”
Funds have been raised for Linee throughout the week and the mood in the Stormers camp was high.
“During training this week, we had Schalk Burger return to training for a visit and Tinus was also at training this week, so the atmosphere among the guys was very good.”
Linee played 112 matches for Western Province between 1992 and 2001 and nine tour games for South Africa.
Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers, who made his debut for Western Province at centre alongside Linee in 2001, paid tribute to the former WP man by scoring the only try of Saturday’s game.
It has been reported that Linee was diagnosed with MND six weeks ago, after complaining of being unwell in February.
Linee was still involved in rugby last year, working as an assistant coach for Romanian side RCM Universitatea Timisoara, who were crowned champions of their domestic league.
Former Springbok skipper and teammate of Linee, Joost van der Westhuizen, was diagnosed with MND in 2011.
* Supporters can contribute to the fund by SMSing “Tinus” to 38208 at a cost of R10.
[email protected] – Cape Argus