World Rugby has joined the South African rugby family in mourning the passing of former South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) President Ebrahim Patel, who passed away today aged 78.

A pioneer of rugby unification in South Africa, Patel served jointly as the first President of the newly-formed SARFU along with Dr Danie Craven in 1992.

He played an instrumental role in negotiations with the respective parties that led to the eventual establishment of SARFU, paving the way for the Springboks’ restoration to international competition and ultimately South Africa’s hosting of the transformational Rugby World Cup 1995.

Patel also served as a representative of his union on the IRB (now World Rugby) Council between 1992 and 1993, playing an active and committed role to the advancement of rugby at a time of great change and development.

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont offered his sympathies and highlighted Patel’s enormous contribution to both domestic and international rugby.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of Ebrahim Patel, the former South African Rugby Football Union President, who passed away today,” said Beaumont.

“Ebrahim’s role in unifying the sport in South Africa should not be under-estimated and his impact on the global stage as an IRB Council member was equally impactful at a time of great change for the sport.”