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Former South African rugby player, James Small, has died.
Small, who was among the 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, reportedly suffered a heart attack, according to a report from Netwerk24 (paywall).
The news, which broke around 2pm on Wednesday afternoon on the Afrikaans publication, rattled through Twitter. And within the hour, #RIPJamesSmall began trending on the social network, with users remembering Small’s legacy fondly.
The Springboks official account led the sentiment.
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 10, 2019
Former SA cricketer Hershelle Gibbs called the news “really sad”. “RIP Big Man,” he added.
Just heard the sad news about the ex @Springboks winger James Small who passed away today😞 really sad! Rip big man!
— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) July 10, 2019
Referee Jonathan Kaplan noted that Small was “Not the easiest oke to ref on the field but one of the kindest off it.”
“Amazing self belief and always keen to challenge, its probably what made him special,” he added.
I'm shocked and v saddened to hear about James Small. Not the easiest oke to ref on the field but one of the kindest off it. Amazing self belief and always keen to challenge, its probably what made him special. A hero, a great Bok, a friend.. RIP Bro. You made the most of life!
— Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) July 10, 2019
Others added their thoughts too.
So sad to hear that James Small has died at the age of 50.
— Cindy Poluta (@CindyPoluta) July 10, 2019
Sad news just in:
James Small, winger of the 1995 World Cup-winning Springboks, has died of an apparent heart attack.
James was 50 years old.
Condolences to the family and all his friends & fans.#RIPJamesSmall#WorkZone @jacarandafm pic.twitter.com/OXLsZjRwmP
— Alex Jay (@AlexJayZA) July 10, 2019
— Elma Smit (@Elmakapelma) July 10, 2019
Small played 47 test matches for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997, and wore a number of provincial sides’ colours, including Western Province and Transvaal.
Small’s death comes two years after Joost van der Westerhuizen lost his fight with motor neuron disease, it also comes just hours after another South African legend, actress Nomhle Nkonyeni, died. She was 77.
Feature image: screenshot, Springboks (@Springboks) via Twitter