The rugby world has been in mourning this past week following the sad passing of South Africa rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen on February 6th following a six year battle with motor neurone disease.
Aged only 45, the former scrum-half leaves behind a wife and two children, Jordan and Kylie. While his passing was the inevitable conclusion to the progression of the incurable disease, it is the bravery and humility in which he battled his illness that will be remembered.
As the tributes poured in for the World Cup winner, it is the poignant words of his own son, Jordan, that capture the fighting spirit and inspirational outlook Joost had in his life, particularly in the final years.
— Sander Westerveld Official (@sawe74) February 11, 2017
Van der Westhuizen was honoured with a minute’s silence before each of the three Six Nations games at the weekend. In each, the silence was broken by a heartfelt and prolonged round of applause by the fans and players, a fitting tribute from a rugby fraternity, united in both sadness and pride.
Regarded as one of the finest no.9’s of all time, van der Westhuizen redefined the role of scrum-half through his bravery and tenacity, characteristics that he carried throughout his career and during those final years as his illness took hold.
Laid to rest last Friday, his coffin was carried by his 1995 World Cup winning team-mates.
Rest in peace Joost.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
This week’s edition of The Oval Office, we speak with Niall Ronan, David Arnott and talk all things Six Nations.