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Joost van der Westhuizen (1971 - 2017)

AP / John Parkin

Joost van der Westhuizen (1971 - 2017)

Joost van der Westhuizen, the rugby legend who won a World Cup with South Africa in 1995, died Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 45.

He died six years after being diagnosed with a form of motor neuron disease.

When the South African team won the World Cup, South Africa's newly elected President Nelson Mandela witnessed the event.

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“Joost will be remembered as one of the greatest Springboks – not only of his generation, but of all time,” said Mark Alexander, the president of SA Rugby, in a post on Facebook. “As a player, he lifted the Rugby World Cup, Tri-Nations, and Currie Cup while establishing himself as one of the best scrumhalves world rugby has ever seen. He was the record holder for the most Test tries for the Springboks for more than 13 years and finished his international career with 38 Test tries.

“He also became an inspiration and hero to many fellow sufferers of this terrible disease as well as to those unaffected. We all marvelled at his bravery, his fortitude and his uncomplaining acceptance of this terrible burden."

Van der Westhuizen, who was born Feb. 20, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa, was a nominee for South Africa rugby player of the year six times during his career, in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999.

He leaves behind two children, Jordan and Kylie; his father and mother, Gustav and Mariana; and two brothers, Pieter and Gustav.

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