[LISTEN] Heartbreak as Springbok legend Chester Williams dies

[LISTEN] Heartbreak as Springbok legend Chester Williams dies

South Africans and the rugby fraternity are mourning the loss of Springbok legend, Chester Williams. It is believed that Williams passed away from a heart attack on Friday. 

Chester Williams

South Africans and the rugby fraternity are mourning the loss of Springbok legend, Chester Williams. 

It is believed that Williams passed away from a heart attack on Friday. 

Williams was part of the winning 1995 Springbok squad that won the Rugby World Cup at a tumultuous time in South Africa's history. 

Williams was the only black player in the World Cup-winning side that defeated rivals New Zealand 15-12 after extra time at Ellis Park stadium.

The Springboks team was reserved for whites in the apartheid era until 1981 when the first black player, fly-half Errol Tobias, was selected.

Williams died less than two months after the death of James Small, the other winger in the 1995 side.

ALSO READ: Kolisi on historic mission as Boks go from 'dark place to good space'


Johnny Burger of the South African Hall fo Fame was heartbroken upon hearing the news. 

"He was gifted and talented, but above all his character stood out," says Burger. 

*Additional reporting by AFP.

Listen to Burger below: 

Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, reacted with shock and disbelief to the news od Williams' passing. 


“The news of Chester’s passing is devastating and hard to believe, as he was still young and seemingly in good health,” said Alexander.


“Chester was a true pioneer in South African rugby and his performances at the World Cup in 1995, as a snapshot of his Springbok career, will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of our rugby public.


“As a member of the Springbok class of 1995, Chester was not only well-known in the rugby fraternity, but he was a much-loved South African whose influence stretched wider than just the rugby world.


“He was passionate about rugby and South Africa and as coach, at various levels, selflessly gave back to the game after he hung up his boots. He played with courage and was a beacon of light in his community and in the broader South African context.


“Chester Williams had so much more to give. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Maria, his children, family and friends during this very sad time.”

ALSO READ: Beyond the Spotlight: Chester Williams


Nicknamed the “Black Pearl”, Williams was born in Paarl on 8 August 1970. He played for DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions during his provincial career, which stretched from 1991 to 2000. He also had two seasons of Vodacom Super Rugby with the Cats.


Williams made his Springbok debut against Argentina in 1993 and played 27 Tests for South Africa until his last Test, against Wales in 2000, scoring 14 Test tries in the process. In total, he played 47 matches in the green and gold and scored 27 tries.


In 1995, he was a member of the initial Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup, but had to withdraw due to injury shortly before the tournament started. He was later recalled and scored four tries in the quarter-final against Samoa.


Williams was named the SA Rugby Player of the Year in 1994. Apart from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995, Williams was also a member of the Springbok squad that won the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (then Tri-Nations) in 1998, and he won the Currie Cup with the Xerox Golden Lions in 1999.


Blessed with speed to burn and great anticipation, sevens rugby was also a natural fit for Williams, who played in 22 tournaments for the Springbok Sevens team, including the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments in 1993 and 2001. He also captained the Blitzboks at the Commonwealth Games in 1998.


After his playing days, Williams turned to coaching, where he was involved at various levels of the game, including the Blitzboks, Cats (Vodacom Super Rugby), the national teams of Uganda and Tunisia, the Phakisa Pumas (Currie Cup), and more recently the University of the Western Cape in the FNB Varsity Cup.


Williams is the fifth member of the Springbok squad from 1995 to pass away, after Kitch Christie (coach), Ruben Kruger (flank), Joost van der Westhuizen (scrumhalf), and James Small (wing), who passed away two months ago.


Williams is survived by his wife, Maria, and three children, Ryan and twins, Matthew and Chloe. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made and will be communicated in due course.

Show's Stories