Chester Williams: South Africa World Cup winner dies aged 49

Chester Williams
Williams had been coaching since retiring 18 years ago

Former South Africa international and 1995 World Cup winner Chester Williams has died at the age of 49.

Williams played 27 Tests for the Springboks between 1993 and 2000, scoring 14 tries.

The former wing was the only black player in the World Cup-winning team that defeated rivals New Zealand 15-12 in South Africa 24 years ago.

"Chester was a true pioneer in South African rugby," said Mark Alexander, the president of SA Rugby.

"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.

"The news of Chester's passing is devastating and hard to believe, as he was still young and seemingly in good health."

Williams also played domestically for Western Province in the Currie Cup.

Since retiring as a player in 2001, Williams had spells coaching the Springbok Sevens team, Super Rugby's Cats and the Pumas in South Africa.

Alexander added: "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."

South Africa has now lost four members of its iconic World Cup winning team.

Williams' death comes just two months after fellow winger James Small died of a heart attack aged 50.

Two years ago scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen died after battling motor neurone disease while flanker Ruben Kruger died in 2010 from brain cancer.

'An iconic figure' - analysis

Chris Jones, BBC rugby union correspondent

Chester Williams is an iconic figure in South African sport.

Although the famous World Cup win of 1995 came after the end of apartheid, rugby still held the perception of being a sport for the white population of South Africa.

Williams helped change that, playing a key role in the '95 triumph and forging a path for the likes of Springbok stars Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, who were on the wings for South Africa's other World Cup victory in 2007.

Williams is the fourth member of that 1995 World Cup-winning side to die tragically early, after Kruger, Van der Westhuizen and Small.

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