The rugby world lost one of its most inspirational legends this week as Joost van der Westhuizen passed away.
The former scrum-half had been suffering with motor neurone disease since 2011 and finally lost a brave battle against the degenerative illness, after initially only being given two years to live.
A fighter on and off the pitch, Joost famously stopped Jonah Lomu in his tracks on the way to helping South Africa to their 1995 Rugby World Cup win.
The loss of another participant in that historic match (after Jonah’s passing in November 2015) is a tragic event, especially given the circumstances of Joost’s deterioration. This video of the pair meeting 20 years later is truly heart-rending.
With a powerfully built six-foot frame, van der Westhuizen reinvented the scrum-half position, his athleticism offering South Africa an extra attacking threat rather than purely being the team’s distributor. He retains the try-scoring record for an international scrum-half and was a physical presence on the field – as proven by his tackle on Lomu.
Since his diagnosis he has done remarkable things to raise awareness of the MND through his J9 Foundation, funding research into the disease and providing support to sufferers.
Lomu may have been a man-mountain, but Joost, too, was a mountain of a man.