Joost van der Westhuizen has died at the age of 45 following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND). The former South Africa scrum-half had been in critical condition at hospital over the weekend and passed away on Monday afternoon (6 February).
Van der Westhuizen was one of the finest scrum-halves ever to play the game and was part of the Springboks side that won the historic World Cup in 1995. He represented his country on 89 occasions, scoring 38 tries, and changed the role of scrum-half forever with his blend of seering pace and raw power.
The much-admired World Rugby Hall of Famer spent his entire playing career with the Blue Bulls, and the Pretoria outfit's CEO Barend van Graan was quick to pay tribute a true club legend.
"If there's one thing we can learn from Joost it was his passion for life. That we will never forget." Van Graan told Sport24.
Van der Westhuizen, who captained South Africa to the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup, was diagnosed with MND in 2011 and set up the J9 Foundation in order to help others who suffer from the condition.
A statement from the foundation read: "It is with great sadness we confirm the passing of Joost. He passed away in his home surrounded by his loved ones."