Thu, 18 Jul 2019

Cape Town - A great team man with compassion for rugby fans and children.

That is how James Small's former team-mates say they will remember the former Springbok winger, who died of a heart attack at the age of 50 on Wednesday.

JAMES SMALL: 14 pictures of SA's greatest No 14

He will best be remembered for playing in South Africa's victorious 1995 Rugby World Cup winning team and his former team-mates say they have fond memories of Small.

In an interview with Afrikaans radio station RSG, fellow former winger Chester Williams said:

"I saw him about three weeks ago at a function... we still made jokes together. The thing I'll really miss about James is the energy he always brought to the group. And I experienced that energy three weeks ago as well... always making jokes and sharing stories. So, we'll really miss him for that.

Williams added that Small "developed fast as a player and was always very mature for his age".

"We had a great understanding on the field... and along with Andre Joubert at fullback... it worked well as a back three. And I think that's why we were so successful as a team.

"He a had a soft heart. He always cared for kids and for people who were struggling financially."

Former lock Kobus Wiese said:

"It's a very sad day. Not only was he a great team man but also a good friend. We've come a long way. We started playing together for Transvaal as two youngsters... there were many established guys like Jannie Breedt, Wahl Bartmann, Charles Pieterse, Schalk Naude, John Robbie to name a few... so we were two young guns in the team and had to stand together and fight our way to the top.

"He was a guy you could depend on... probably controversial in some people's eyes at times... but not if you understood him... he was a guy who would have done anything for his team-mates."

Former flyhalf Joel Stransky, who kicked the winning drop goal in the 1995 final against the All Blacks, added:

"I will remember James for the way he handled children... the way he dealt with fans... he had a massive heart. He was a great team-mate, always smiling and always fiercely combative."

Francois Pienaar, the Springbok captain during the 1995 World Cup, told magazine: "We're all shocked and saddened. James had been fearless on the field and off the field, he had a deep empathy for people.

"We're going to miss him a lot. His family is in our prayers during this terribly hard time. Rest in peace, James. You were a rock."

More South Africa News

Access More

Sign up for South Africa News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!