Chester Williams, South African legendary rugby winger and 1995 World Cup-winning has died. He died on September 6, 2019, at the age of 49 after suffering a heart attack. Williams had chest complaints on Friday afternoon after a gym session. He was rushed to a Cape Town hospital but passed away shortly afterward.

Williams became one of the faces of the new South Africa when the Springboks won the World Cup on home soil in front of Nelson Mandela. It was just a year after apartheid officially ended and South Africa elected Mandela as president in its first all-race elections. He was famously called “The Black Pearl,”.

Reacting to news of Williams passing away, South Africa Rugby president Mark Alexander said “The news of Chester’s passing is devastating and hard to believe, as he was still young and seemingly in good health,”  and added that “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 South African Government tweeted: “South Africa has lost another great giant,” while the South African Minister for Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa described Williams as a “true pioneer of SA Rugby” who “reinforced the dreams of a generation of players who would later follow in his footsteps.”

Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman in a tweet has described him as “A symbol of the rainbow nation, Chester’s name will forever epitomise a remarkable and transformational Rugby World Cup 1995. We’ve lost a great, engaging man far too soon.”

Williams was born in Paarl in Western Cape. In his long career, he played 27 Tests for South Africa from 1993 to 2000 and scored 14 Test tries. He was South African rugby’s player of the year in 1994 and led the Springboks to victory in the 1995 World Cup. He retired in 2000 but remained involved in the sport through coaching, including stints with the South African sevens team and the Cats (now the Lions) in Super Rugby. His most recent gig was as coach of the University of Western Cape, a job he held at the time of his death. 

Williams Is Survived by His Wife, Maria Robson, & Their 3 Children


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