World Rugby Hall of Fame – Induction No.119 – Joost Heystek van der Westhuizen (South Africa, Blue Bulls) 1971-
One of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.
Voted by rugby fans as the greatest scrum-half to have appeared at the Rugby World Cup, Joost van der Westhuizen has many admirers not only for his deeds on the pitch but also the courage he has shown since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011.
Earlier this year a wheelchair-bound Van der Westhuizen defied the debilitating effects of the disease to revisit Ellis Park in Johannesburg to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of South Africa’s RWC 1995 win against the All Blacks, arguably his – and his country’s – finest hour.
Van der Westhuizen rose to the occasion that day, tackling All Blacks behemoth Jonah Lomu time and time again without any regard for his own safety while supplying the arrow-like pass to Joel Stransky that allowed his half-back partner the time to compose himself and slot over the match-winning drop goal.
Redefining scrum-half play with his pace and power and superb technical skills, Van der Westhuizen was capped a total of 89 times, scoring 38 tries during a 10-year international career that included three Rugby World Cups. He also appeared in two Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993 and 1997.
Van der Westhuizen captained his country on 10 occasions, scoring a hat-trick in his final match as skipper: a 72-6 win against Uruguay at RWC 2003. He retired from international rugby in the November of that year as the most-capped Springbok of all time – a record that has since been surpassed.
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