James Small dead at 50: South Africa rugby legend passes away from suspected heart attack

SOUTH AFRICA rugby legend James Small has died aged 50 from a suspected heart attack.

Small's mother, Vaughn, confirmed the tragic news of her son's passing this morning.

James Small dead at 50: South Africa rugby legend passes away from suspected heart attack3 James Small has died aged 50 from a suspected heart attackCredit: Rex Features
James Small dead at 50: South Africa rugby legend passes away from suspected heart attack3 Small famously kept Jonah Lomu at bay as South Africa won the 1995 World CupCredit: PA:Empics Sport

The Springboks legend – and 1995 World Cup winner – was said to be on his way to Cape Town from Johannesburg at the time.

Speedy winger Small played 47 Tests for South Africa, in a five-year career between 1992 and 1997 – gaining a reputation for being the "bad boy" of the team for his verbal tirades.

He even became the first Springbok to ever be sent off, after he argued with referee Ed Morison.

Small scored 20 tries during his impressive career – which included stopping Jonah Lomu and his rampant New Zealand team-mates en route to winning the 1995 World Cup on home soil.

But now, he becomes the THIRD member of that triumphant group to pass away.

RIP TO A LEGEND

Ruben Kruger lost his battle with brain cancer in 2010 – while Joost van der Westhuizen passed away two years ago after suffering from motor neurone disease.

Despite retiring from rugby 20 years ago, Small continued to work within the sport.

He coached at various clubs in his homeland, including NWU and Leopards more recently.

Ever since the horrendous news of Small's death broke in South Africa, fans, pundits and fellow sports stars have been paying tribute to the legend.

Former cricketer Herschelle Gibbs wrote: "Just heard the sad news about the ex-Springboks winger James Small who passed away today.

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

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"Really sad! Rip big man!"

Another fan wrote: "Sad loss of a legend. James Small will remain in our hearts forever."

One claimed: "RIP James Small. Certainly one of my all time favourite South African players."

James Small dead at 50: South Africa rugby legend passes away from suspected heart attack3 James Small played 47 Test matches for South Africa in the mid-1990sCredit: PA:Empics Sport

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