Former Springbok wing James Small dies aged 50

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29 Nov 1997: James Small of South Africa is tackled by Richard Hill of England during the Nike International match at Twickenham in London. South Africa won the match 29-11. Mandatory Credit: David Rogers/Allsport
FILE PHOTO: 24 June 1995 Rugby World Cup Final – New Zealand v South Africa – James Small of South Africa shakes hands with Jonah Lomu at the final whistle as All Black Zinzan Brooke (8) walks off dejectedly. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)

Former Springbok wing and 1995 Rugby World Cup winner James Small died aged 50 on Wednesday from a heart attack, the South African Rugby Union announced.

According to SA Rugby, Small was taken to a hospital in Johannesburg on Tuesday night after suffering from a suspected heart attack.

The President of SA Rugby, Mark Alexander, sent his condolences to the family of Small, whom he praised for always living and playing with passion and courage.

“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,” Alexander said in a statement posted on the SA Rugby website.

Small debuted for the South African men’s rugby team, the Springboks, in 1992 against New Zealand. He played 47 tests scoring 20 tries in five years.

One of the highlights of Small’s career was his performance in the 1995 World Cup final, where his efforts to keep New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu at bay helped the Springboks lift the Webb Ellis Cup on home soil

Small was the first South African to be sent off in a test following his dismissal against Australia in 1993.

The South African government and members of the country’s rugby fraternity took to social media to mourn the death of Small.

Small is the third member of the 1995 Rugby World Cup winning team to die. Ruben Kruger died in 2010 following a long battle with brain cancer while Joost van der Westhuizen died after suffering from motor neurone disease in 2017.

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