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World Cup winning Springbok dies in car accident


South African captain François Pienaar brandishes the William Webb Ellis trophy and greets the crowd with teammate Hannes Strydom after beating New Zealand to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.
Photo: AFP

Former South African rugby star Hannes Strydom has died in a car accident at the age of 58.

He was part of the Springbok team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup after the end of apartheid in 1994.

He started the final as the home side beat New Zealand 15-12 to take the crown in front of a driving Nelson Mandela at Ellis Park.

Strydom earned 21 Springbok caps in his career between 1993 and 1997.

A former colleague and close friend of Kobus Wiese told local media that the details of the accident were still unclear, but the vehicle Straidom was traveling in collided with a minibus taxi.

The accident happened on Sunday near the coal mining town of Emalahleni in Mpumalanga province.

South African Rugby Union President Mark Alexander hailed Strydom as “one of the heroes of our local game” in the Springboks’ tribute to him.

His former club, the Lions, also paid tribute to him, describing him as a legend who had formed a great green combination with Wiese.

“We have a strong bond as members of the 1995 group and it is a great blow to lose another of our brothers,” said Lions Rugby Company chief executive officer Rudolf Straeuli.

Strydom made his debut for the Springboks in 1993, and helped defeat arch-rivals New Zealand 15-12 in the 1995 World Cup final in Johannesburg – South Africa’s biggest sporting event since the end of apartheid .

He ended his Springbok career in 1997 after playing in the British and Irish Lions series.

Strydom also captained the Lions team that lifted the local Currie Cup trophy in 1999.

He made 115 appearances for the team between 1993 and 2000.

Outside of rugby, Strydom worked as a pharmacist in the capital, Pretoria, and started pharmaceutical chain Pharma Valu after hanging up his boots.

In 2014, he suffered a fractured skull and stab wounds after six people attacked him in a carjacking, landing him in intensive care.

He is the fifth player from the 1995 Springbok team to die.

Others include Ruben Kruger in 2010, Joost van der Westhuizen in 2017, and Chester Williams and James Small in 2019. Coach Kitch Christie also died in 1998.

This story first appeared on the BBC

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