The SA Rugby Legends (SARLA) President and renowned South African philanthropist, Gavin Varejes and Stefan Terblanche, CEO, have expressed their deep sadness at the loss of South African rugby legend, James Small.
James Small, 50, will always be remembered for his vital role in South Africa’s triumphant 1995 Rugby World Cup. With an expansive and impressive career, Small made his debut on the Springbok’s wing in 1992 against New Zealand’s All Blacks, playing a total of 47 tests until late 1997. Small proudly wore South Africa’s green and gold a total of 60 times, scoring 27 tries and playing in tests against Australia, New Zealand, Western Samoa, England, Scotland, Romania, Italy, Argentina, France and more. His final test match saw him score his 20th try, earning him the title of lead Springbok try scorer, breaking Danie Gerber’s test record of the time.
Since ending his professional rugby career, Small continued to devote his time and energy both as a coach to various clubs and to SARLA’s rugby development and transformational activities with youth from previously disadvantaged communities.
Both Varejes and Terblanche recall many memorable moments with Small. Gavin Varejes, SARLA President, said that Small lived and played with passion and courage, sharing that “I speak for all our rugby legends when I say that we are truly devastated to hear of James’ passing. I will never forget the enthusiasm he expressed when the Springboks were learning the lyrics of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and later, when during a visit to Robben Island, James visibly wept at Madiba’s ability to remain so compassionate following his prison term.” Varejes added that “It’s thus fitting that his funeral will be held on the 18th July, Mandela Day, as James was regarded by all of us at SARLA as a true legend.”
SARLA CEO, Stefan Terblanche, added warmth to Varejes words, saying “Whilst James was often regarded with humour as our ‘bad boy’ due to his intense passion during a game, his passion was always equal in measure to the love he felt and expressed for his fellow man and in the pursuit of the transformation of rugby in South Africa. This is truly devasting news.”
Terblanche concluded by sharing that “On behalf of SARLA and all of our rugby legends, we wish James’ family and friends strength during this incredibly difficult time. He will always have a special place in the heart and history of South Africa’s rugby community, legends and fans.”
James Small is survived by his immediate family and two small children. In respect of his memory, SARLA has created a fundraising initiative to support them during this devastating time.
To contribute to the memory of our great rugby legend, James Small, please SMS your name and message to 42303. R30 will be donated to the care of his family. This initiative will also be shared on the screens at halftime during the Springboks match against Australia on Saturday 20th July at Ellis Park.