Chester Williams, 1995 Rugby World Cup hero and former South Africa wing, dies at 49

Chester Williams celebrates after crossing the whitewash against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1994
Chester Williams celebrates after crossing the whitewash against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1994
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Chester Williams, the sole black player in South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, has died at the age of 49.



Reports in the player's homeland said Williams had died after suffering a heart attack.

The winger was capped 27 times for the Springboks and scored 70 points, including a try-scoring appearance against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1994.

He made his debut for South Africa against Argentina in 1993, becoming the first non-white player to be selected for the Springboks since his uncle, Avril Williams - also a winger - and fly-half Errol Tobias had featured in the early 1980s.

Williams was initially ruled out of the World Cup squad through injury, but was recalled to the squad after fellow winger Pieter Hendricks was suspended for his involvement in a brawl against Canada.

He would go on to score four tries in the quarter-final against Western Samoa and kept his starting place for the semi-final against France and final against New Zealand. South Africa recorded a 15-12 victory over the All-Blacks after extra time.

His last international appearance was against Wales in Cardiff in November 2000, with South Africa running out 23-13 winners.

Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said Williams' passing was "hard to believe", adding: "It's devastating, as he was still young and seemingly in good health," he told springboks.rugby.

"Chester was a true pioneer in South African rugby and his performances at the World Cup in 1995, as a snapshot of his Springbok career, will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of our rugby public.

"Chester was not only well-known in the rugby fraternity, but he was a much-loved South African whose influence stretched wider than just the rugby world.

"He was passionate about rugby and South Africa and as coach, at various levels, selflessly gave back to the game after he hung up his boots. He played with courage and was a beacon of light in his community and in the broader South African context.

"Chester Williams had so much more to give. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Maria, his children, family and friends during this very sad time."

Williams is the fifth member of the 1995 squad to pass away, after fellow winger James Small, coach Kitch Christie, scrum-half Joost Van Der Westhuizen and flanker Ruben Kruger.

He is survived by wife Maria and children, Ryan, Matthew and Chloe.