South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen dies, aged 45

However it was his performance at the previous World Cup, held in South Africa, that cemented his reputation in world rugby.

The great South African half has finally succumbed to motor neurond disease, passing away in Johannesburg at the age of 45.

Former Fiji Sevens coach Ben Ryan tweeted his condolences, saying: "Heart-breaking to hear that Joost has passed away". He will be sorely missed'.

He and his estranged wife, singer Amor Vittone, had two children, son Jordan and daughter Kylie.

He spent his final moments at home‚ surrounded by all of his close family and friends. You are up in heaven without any pain.

"You are and always will be my first love".

The J9 Foundation, set up by Van der Westhuizen to aid those suffering with MND, released a short statement on their official Facebook page updating fans on the ex-skipper's condition. "An incredible player and fighter to the end".


Van der Westhuizen was rushed to hospital yesterday, and is now in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The statement said: "The family and friends of Joost ask that you all pray for Joost".

Pieter thanked the public for supporting the family in their time of need.

"Mr Van der Westhuizen is one of the best rugby players that the country has ever produced".

Joost's leadership, motivational skills and intense passion were also admired and he was fortunate to have captained the Springboks 10 times in an global career spanning 89 Tests and scored an uncharacteristically high amount of tries for a scrum half - 38. A scrum half legend and a true warrior both on and off the field.

Van der Westhuizen self-deprecatingly chose instead to highlight being caught out by the Matt Dawson dummy as the British and Irish Lions claimed a series victory in South Africa in 1997.

"I realise every day could be my last", he told the BBC in 2013.

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