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World Cup-winning Springbok James Small dies aged 50

The former wing suffered a suspected heart attack.

Small and Jonah Lomu after the 1995 World Cup final.
Small and Jonah Lomu after the 1995 World Cup final.
Image: EMPICS Sport

FORMER SPRINGBOK JAMES Small, a member of South Africa’s 1995 World Cup-winning side, has passed away suddenly at the age of 50.

South Africa Rugby has today confirmed Small was rushed to hospital in Johannesburg on Tuesday night after suffering from a suspected heart attack. 

The former wing made his Springboks debut against New Zealand in 1992, before going on to play in 47 Tests for South Africa.

Small scored 20 Test tries, with the last of those in his final match in the Green and Gold, against Scotland — a try which, at that stage, broke Danie Gerber’s Test record to become South Africa’s leading try-scorer.

He started the 1995 World Cup final against the All Blacks and helped the host nation keep Jonah Lomu, who had scored four tries in New Zealand’s semi-final win over England, scoreless.

Small represented the Lions, Sharks and Western Province at club level during his career.

Rugby Union - International Test - England v South Africa Small won 47 Test caps. Source: EMPICS Sport

“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,” SA Rugby president, Mark Alexander, said. 

“He always played with the type of passion and courage that encapsulate what Springbok rugby stands for, and he lived his life in the same way.

“At 50 years old, James Small died too young. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this very sad time.”

Small is the third member of South Africa’s 1995 squad to pass away, following Ruben Kruger in 2010 and Joost van der Westhuizen in 2017.

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