LOUIS LUYT: 1932 - 2013

Dr Louis Luyt (L), President of South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU), shakes hands with Dr G. Sam, who led the delegation of National Sports Council (NSC), at NSC headquarters in Johannesburg 07 April. In a surprise move, SARFU boss Louis Luyt, who has been at the centre of the dispute, arrived at the talks after saying earlier he would not take part in the discussions. Picture: AFP.

DURBAN – Dr Louis Luyt has been remembered as a visionary, a bully and a man who came from nowhere to become powerful and influential.

He was born in 1932 in Britstown in the Cape to humble beginnings.

His unauthorised biographer Max du Preez said it was his difficult background that motivated him.

“Instead of becoming a victim, it [his difficult background] drove him. Right through his life, he was striving for power and money.”

Luyt launched the Citizen newspaper in the 1970's and found himself neck-deep in the Information Scandal.

But he also invested heavily in a failed brewing venture, Luyt Lager.

As head of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), he oversaw professionalism but was accused of being autocratic and was eventually sacked.

Luyt was the president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) when the Springboks won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

He famously became the only man to force then sitting president, Nelson Mandela, to testify in open court about an inquiry into the affairs of rugby.

Luyt ventured into politics by financing the Federal Alliance and served as a Member of Parliament.

According to du Preez, Luyt was politically naïve.

“He wasn’t liked much but he was admired. He wasn’t liked by the political establishment of the former regime or of the current regime and not even by the rugby fraternity.”

The former Saru president will no doubt have achieved his goal - to have an impact and to be remembered.

From fertilizer peddler to super Afrikaner, Luyt achieved notoriety as a power wielding rugby boss with forays into politics, beer and newspapers.

He died at the age of 80 at a Durban hospital on Friday morning.

(Edited by Katleho Mogase)