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Rugby legend James Small dies

Small played 47 Tests for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997 and was part of the team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

South Africa's Springboks James Small evades a tackle while he clutches the ball during the Tri-Nations test in Pretoria 23 August. Australia suffered a 61-22 defeat.
Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Former Springbok winger James Small has died at the age of 50.

It's understood he suffered a heart attack and died at a Johannesburg hospital on Wednesday.

Small played 47 Tests for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997 and was part of the team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

He also played provincially for the Lions, Sharks and Western Province.

He made his international debut against the All Blacks in 1992 and made his final appearance against Scotland in 1997.

In that final test match, he scored his 20th try, becoming the leading Springbok try scorer at the time, eclipsing Danie Gerber’s record.

Small became the first-ever Springbok to be sent off in a match due to his dissent towards a referee.

In recent years, he turned to coaching and assisted Robert du Preez at NWU-Pukke and the Leopards before joining Pirates in Johannesburg as an assistant coach.

Small was not without controversy though; in 2001, he admitted to abusing his girlfriend at the time Christina Storm-Nel.

He was the fourth member of the Springbok squad from 1995 to pass away, after Kitch Christie (coach), Ruben Kruger (flank) and Joost van der Westhuizen (scrumhalf).

President of SA Rugby Mark Alexander said: “James, as a member of the triumphant Rugby World Cup squad from 1995, will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of the South African public and we were devastated to hear of his passing. At 50 years old, James Small died too young. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this very sad time”, said Alexander.

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