A shocked Springbok squad awoke to the news of the passing of Chester Williams, the 1995 Rugby World Cup winner on Saturday, as they continued their own World Cup journey in Japan.
“This was horrible news to wake up to this morning,” said Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby. “There was a very sombre mood in the breakfast room, it really is unbelievable news.”
Williams died from a heart attack in Cape Town on Friday. He was 49.
“I played with Chester and many of our management knew him well and we are all in shock this morning. Many of our players were too young to remember the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final, but they have grown up watching highlights of the Final and of Chester and know him as a rugby player who became an icon for our country.
“Only this week our management team was chatting to Chester about his plans to come to the tournament and about tickets for Rugby World Cup matches. It will take us some time to get over this shock.
“Our thoughts and prayers right now are particularly with the family that Chester has left behind, with Maria and the children. We have lost a legend, they have lost a husband and father.
“It’s probably no comfort to them now, but I am sure that Chester’s name will go down with the greats of South African rugby as a player and for what he stood for in our country’s history.
“This is a very sad day for South Africa and South African rugby.”
The Springboks were travelling from Kumagaya to a new training base in Kagashima on Saturday.
*Meanwhile, the Western Province Rugby Football Union paid tribute to Williams.
The mercurial wing earned 63 caps for Western Province between 1991 and 1998, putting in countless memorable performances in the blue and white hooped number 11 jersey.
Following his playing career, Williams turned to coaching and was involved in Western Province Rugby structures, serving as Head Coach of UWC at the time of his passing and working with the DHL Western Province U21 side just this week.
WPRFU President Zelt Marais said that Williams’ passing is a sad moment for anyone who witnessed his contributions to rugby both on and off the field.
“Chester Williams was an icon of our sport who gave selflessly of himself and will be remembered as one of the greats of the game.
“Our thoughts are with his family in this difficult time,” he said.
Marais added that the WPRFU and its affiliated clubs will pay tribute to Williams’ memory this weekend.
“It is fitting that all club games this weekend will observe a minute’s silence, which will give us all an opportunity to reflect on the immense contribution that Chester has made,” he said.
The post Shocked Boks Mourn Williams From Japan appeared first on iAfrica.com.