Joost memorial: ‘As a coach you wished you had 15 Joosts’

10 February 2017 - 14:59 By Craig Ray

The memorial for Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen is being held at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday.

Springbok class of 1995 carrying the coffin of their late former teammate Joost van der Westhuizen at a public memorial ceremony held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Springbok class of 1995 carrying the coffin of their late former teammate Joost van der Westhuizen at a public memorial ceremony held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Image: Mahlatse Mphahlele

The Bok and Blue Bulls scrumhalf died aged 45 on Monday after a long battle with motor neuron disease.

  • WATCH: Amor's emotional tribute to JoostAmor Vittone has shared a tribute video of Joost van der Westhuizen on the day of his memorial in Pretoria. 

Here is some of what has been said so far:

* Wynie Strydom (Bulls team manager):

“There can’t be a better place to say goodbye than Loftus Versfeld.

“When I think of his life it brings a smile because he lives a life so full. He packed in another 30 years‚ so he died at 75‚ not 45.

“Since high school‚ everybody spoke about him and when he arrived at Loftus‚ he made a huge impression.”

  • WATCH LIVE: Joost van der Westhuizen memorial serviceFriends, family and fans are gathering to pay tribute to rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen at his memorial service in Pretoria. 

* Henry Kelbrick (Bulls team doctor)

“He played with broken ribs in 1995 and played two World Cups without cruciate ligaments.

“We made a plan and worked around it. He always had a plan and was always mischievous.”



* Bok legend Naas Botha:

“That tackle on Jonah Lomu was the one incident that changed the 1995 final.”

* Former Bok captain John Smit:

“He was an incredible competitor and it was a privilege to play alongside him for a short while.

“He was uncompromising and didn’t cut you slack because you were a youngster in the team. You had to earn your stripes and once you’d worked hard enough and proven to him you had what it took to be a Springbok‚ you got up to a different stage [in his eyes].

“I knew I had done enough to impress him‚ when he pulled his first prank on me. He taught me how to be a Springbok.”

  • Joost van der Westhuizen's children bid farewell with heartbreaking tribute letters Those close to rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen gathered at the Lewende Woord Church in Brummeria, Pretoria to bid farewell to him during a private funeral service on Friday morning.  

Bok lock Victor Matfield:

“When I started with the Bulls I didn’t want to be near Joost because I was a bit scared of him‚ but once I got to sit next to him at the back of the bus‚ I realised what a leader he was.”

Former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis:

“[1995 World Cup coach] Kitch Christie had no favourites‚ but I confessed to the other 1995 players today that he always put Joost’s name first on the team sheet.

“He had such confidence‚ which flowed over to the rest of the team. He was a massive presence at the World Cup‚ but his real strength and bravery showed in the years after his retirement.”

  • Joost and Fourie – master and studentThey grew up a generation and a few kilometres apart‚ but Joost van der Westhuizen and Fourie du Preez are bound together through rugby and the passing of a torch. 

* Ex-Bull and Bok Jaco van Westhuysen:

“I’m sad but we must celebrate what he did for people who suffered from MND.”

* Eugene van Wyk (Joost’s first Bulls coach):

“He was a phenomenal bloke to have in your team because he always gave his best.

“As a coach you wished you had 15 Joosts.

“He had so much talent and the tries he scored were phenomenal. You tend to forget how good he was.”

  • 'Colossus' Joost welcomed me at Loftus with open arms,' says Mametsa Former Bulls and Blue Bulls winger John Mametsa has joined people around the world paying tribute to the late former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen by describing him as a ‘colossus of the game’. 

Former Bok and Bulls teammate Andre Snyman:

“Everybody came to watch him play …we were just the rest of the team. He was a great character and he was my roommate for seven years‚ which led to the joke I slept with Joost more than he did with his wife.

“It’s a sad day‚ but a good friend is going home to where he should be. We will miss him.

“He lived a full life – he was always the life of the party and the leader who brought people together on and off the field.”

Watch Joost's casket being carried into the stadium:


- TMG Digital/TMG Sport