RIP: Tributes to five late, great 1995 Springbok World Cup winners

Following the tragic death of 1995 World Cup winner Hannes Strydom, we reflect on the careers of all five fallen heroes from that campaign.

Hannes Strydom has tragically become the latest member of the 1995 Springbok World Cup winning team to pass away, at the age of 58, following Ruben Kruger, Chester Williams, Joost van der Westhuizen and James Small.



Van der Westhuizen added a Tri-Nations and two Currie Cup titles to his honours roll in a career that lasted eight years beyond the 1995 World Cup. He went on to represent the Boks at the 1999 and 2003 World Cups before retiring as the then most-capped Springbok.

89 times in the cap for the Springboks With 38 career test tries, Joost became the nation’s first-choice scrum-half in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, retiring a rugby icon and holding the record for most scrum-half tries in Test Rugby.

He played for South Africa in three Rugby World Cups (1995, 1999, and 2003) and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007. Of course, his amazing tackle of All Blacks great Jonah Lomu during the historic 1995 victory stands as one of his most memorable moments.

Additionally, he is the only Springbok to have led his nation in both World Cup Sevens and 15-man contests.

After retirement stint in front of the cameras at SuperSport followed briefly before he moved into other avenues of business.

Van der Westhuizen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011, an illness he fought until he passed away at the age of 45 in 2017. The J9 Foundation, founded in 2012, assists other MND sufferers, and Van der Westhuizen’s family remains actively involved with this charity.


The man known as the ‘Silent Assassin’ did all his talking on the field. Kruger made his Test debut for the Springboks on the back of several excellent seasons domestically, first with Free State (now known as the Cheetahs) and then with Northern Transvaal (now named the Bulls).

In five Test matches for the Springboks during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Kruger scored one try and helped the team to an incredible victory.

He would go on to play for his country for an additional four years, culminating in an appearance at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

In 2000, Kruger ended his rugby career and opened a camera franchise in Pretoria. Later that year, he was told he had a brain tumor and traveled to Nigeria to meet faith healer TB Joshua.

Although the tumor was removed in 2000, it returned in 2009, and two months before he turned forty, Kruger passed away.


On August 8, 1970, Chester Mornay Williams was born in Paarl.

Williams participated in 27 Test matches for the Springboks, netting 70 points from 14 tries.

With a 76% win percentage, he was victorious in 20 Tests, losing six, and drawing one.

Williams played his final Test match in November 2000 in Cardiff against Wales, having made his debut the previous November against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Williams gained notoriety by leading South Africa to victory in the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

An injury prior to the start of the tournament ruled him out of the World Cup, but a suspension to wing Pieter Hendricks, for his part in a brawl against Canada, allowed Williams a reprieve after he had recovered.

He returned to the side with four tries against Samoa in the quarter-finals and maintained his place through to their victory in the final against the All Blacks.

Later in his career Williams was critical of the quota system employed in South African rugby and also spoke out against racism in the national squad in his book Chester.

Williams’s coaching career began shortly after as his playing days ended.

In 2001, he was Boland’s assistant coach and then became coach of the Springbok Sevens team, who he had represented at the World Cup that year.

He was in charge of the Cats in 2004 and 2005, before becoming South Africa ‘A’ and Pumas coach in 2006.

Williams coached abroad in Uganda in 2007, Tunisia in 2008, and two Romanian clubs, Dinamo Bucharest (2008-11) and Timisoara (2012-13).

He finished his diploma in coaching in sports science in 2015 and was appointed marketing director of Forward Africa Petroleum.

As reported by The South African website, he died from a suspected heart attack on 6 September 2019 at the age of 49.


James Terence Small was born on 10 February 1969 in Cape Town.

Small played 47 Tests in total for the Springboks scoring 100 points thanks to 20 tries.

With a 62% win record, he was victorious in 28 Tests, losing 17 and drawing 2.

In August 1992, Small made his Test debut in Johannesburg against New Zealand, and in December 1997, he played his final Test match in Edinburgh against Scotland.

In the 1995 World Cup final, Small’s marking of All Blacks great Jonah Lomu was a major factor in the Springboks’ triumph.

After retiring from rugby in 1999, Small went on to become a prosperous restaurateur. She now owns the well-known restaurant and nightclub Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay, Cape Town.

He also had business interests in ADreach, a company specialising in street pole advertising in South Africa.

Small was involved with the Investec Rugby Academy, before being appointed Pukke assistant coach for the 2014 Varsity Cup.

He later joined the Leopards in the Currie Cup First Division as a coaching consultant.

He died on 10 July 2019 in Johannesburg from a heart attack aged 50.


In 1993, Strydom made his Springboks Test debut against France.

His effort in the second row proved vital to the Springboks’ victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, even though he only appeared in one match in 1994.

Strydom played in eleven World Cup finals throughout his 21-cap career, which came to a conclusion in August 1997 in Pretoria against Australia.

Within South Africa, the tall second rower played for the Eastern Province, Northern Transvaal, and Transvaal teams, which then evolved into the Golden Lions.

Strydom’s 14-year career finally came to an end when he retired in 2000.

He was a licensed pharmacist who owned and operated a chain of pharmacies in Pretoria known as Pharma Valu. He also sells a line of exclusive slimming goods and supplements.

However, Strydom was recently in the center of allegations that he was involved in the illegal black market sales of codeine drugs. More about that incident and his response are available here.

The former Springbok, who is currently 58 years old, escaped a carjacking and assault attempt in 2014.

It was verified that he had passed away in an automobile accident in the heartbreaking news that broke on November 19.

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