‘We are still struggling with James Small’s untimely death and now Chester’: Kobus Wiese
Former Springbok lock Kobus Wiese says Chester Williams, who died of a heart attack on Friday, was an integral part of the team’s success when they won the 1995 World Cup on home soil.
Williams missed the early stages of the 1995 tournament through injury but returned to the squad for the quarterfinals. He immediately scored four tries against Samoa as the Boks advanced to the semis and ultimately to the final, where they beat New Zealand.
Williams was the only black player in the team and his inclusion helped galvanise the nation’s support behind the Springboks.
“Chester was a very talented player whom I got to know a little after my brother played in the Western Province League Craven Week team in the late 1980s,” Wiese told TimesLIVE.
“Chester didn’t talk much on the field, but he was very passionate about his team and his teammates. He loved the game of rugby dearly and he had the respect of the community for what he achieved.
“He was a very important part of our 1995 team. We all understood the symbolic nature of Chester’s inclusion in the team but as a squad we never made a big thing about it, and neither did he.
“He was one of the team and he never wanted to be singled out. We had a vision and a goal and desperately wanted to win the tournament, and Chester was a big part of us doing that.”
Williams, who was 49, is the fifth member of the 1995 team to pass away after coach Kitch Christie, flank Ruben Kruger, scrumhalf Joost can der Westhuizen and, most recently, wing James Small.
Small died just two months ago, also from a heart attack.
“It’s been a terrible few months for the 1995 team. We are still struggling with James Small’s untimely death and now Chester. It’s terribly sad,” Wiese said.
Williams is survived by his wife, Maria, and three children, Ryan and twins Matthew and Chloe.