Former Springbok scrum half Joost van der Westhuizen has died

PUBLISHED: Mon, 06 Feb 2017 13:42:25 GMT

Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen (45) has died. Van der Westhuizen was the scrumhalf for the South African rugby side that triumphed at the 1995 World Cup,

He was admitted to hospital on Saturday morning in a critical condition, and on Monday afternoon passed away.

In 2011 at the age of 40, Van der Westhuizen was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND), which many experts believe was caused by a mixture of damaging genetic and environmental factors.

He was given only two and a half years to live, however he held on for many more years with an unflagging purpose he always showed in the field while playing for the Springboks.

The disease left Van der Westhuizen restricted to a wheel chair using a computer to communicate; during his illness he founded the J9 foundation which seeks to inform people about the disease.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Joost. He passed away in his home surrounded by his loved ones,” read a statement from the J9 Foundation, a charity the rugby player founded to help motor neurone disease sufferers.

He played 89 tests for the Springboks, scoring 38 tries before being surpassed by Bryan Habana.

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