President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to legendary Springbok wingman, Chester Williams who died on Friday afternoon.
He tweeted that Williams played a symbolic role with the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup and winning Springbok team.
He says the impact that Williams played off the field in forging unity amongst all South Africans remains his greatest legacy.
Williams who died in Cape Town, aged 49, was a member of the 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad.
The “Black Pearl” from Paarl is the second hero of the victorious 1995 squad that has died in two months. James Small died on the tenth of July this year at the age of 50.
He was also head of rugby at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in the Mother City. UWC spokesperson Nashira Davids said on Friday evening that Williams was on his way to the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan this month.
“It’s with sadness and shock that we’ve learnt that Chester Williams, our head of rugby has died, a new staff member who joined us recently sent me a note on hearing of his passing and said I had the privilege of meeting the legend just yesterday, I’m so sad because I looked forward to working with such a living legend.”
UWC says Williams was looking forward to the new season and showed no signs of not being well.
Tributes have continued to pour in following the death of Williams. He died of an apparent heart attack.
Former Springbok winger Pieter Hendricks has expressed shock following the death of his former teammate. Hendricks and Williams competed against each other for the number eleven jersey in the green and gold team. Williams came in as a replacement for Hendricks in the 1995 Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final mark against Samoa, the match in which Williams wrote his name into history.
Henrick says he met Williams when they were still in primary school.
“I must say it came as a massive shock, it’s really sad. I don’t have words to describe that so I want to offer my sincere condolences to Maria and the twins and the whole family. It’s really sad, look there were so many moments because we played against each other since primary school, high school, craven week, at under 20 level right through to our provincial careers and we competed for the number eleven Springbok jersey.”
Hendricks says Williams played an important role in unifying the country back in 1995.