Chester Williams: Bok legend granted state funeral

Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok winger, Chester Williams will be honoured via a state funeral.

The Bok legend passed away on Friday after suffering a heart attack at his home in Cape Town.

A memorial service was held on Wednesday at the University of the Western Cape, where he worked as its rugby team’s head coach at the time of his death.

State funeral granted for Chester Williams

Among the speakers at the service was national Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille, who is a close friend of the Williams family.

It was she who announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa has granted the former player a state funeral.

“We would like to thank the president for that‚” De Lille said

Patricia de Lille

History-making Springbok recognised by the highest office

Williams, who was 49 at the time of his passing, is regarded as a trailblazer in South African rugby, both as a player and a coach.

He was the first player of colour to represent the Springboks after South Africa was readmitted into the global sporting community, following the fall of the apartheid regime.

The former Western Province winger represented the country 27 times, scoring 14 tries, the most memorable being the four he scored in the 1995 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Western Samoa to guide the famous “Class of ’95” towards the historic title.

Williams began his coaching career soon after hanging up his boots, taking up the head coach role for the Springbok Sevens team, also becoming the first person of colour to do so.

Other teams he has coached include the Cats Super Rugby franchise, as well as national teams in the continent, Uganda and Tunisia.

De Lille said she would have loved to see Williams make an even bigger contribution to the sport in South Africa.

“I would have loved to see Chester making a huge contribution for his country in rugby. Me and him we were close and never talk politics. He was everything to all of us.”

A funeral service for Williams will be held on Saturday at the Newlands Rugby Stadium, where he played for most of his senior rugby career, representing Western Province between 1991 and 1998.

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