Springboks Rugby World Cup winner James Small dies, aged 50

Jame Small, who has passed away, aged 50, will be known forever for his head-to-head performance against Jonah Lomu in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg. John Jones - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Rugby World Cup-winning winger James Small has died at the age of 50.

Small was rushed to hospital in Johannesburg on Tuesday night after what is believed to have been a heart attack.

Small's mother, Vaughn Small, confirmed his death on Wednesday to Afrikaans publication Netwerk 24.

Small played 47 Tests for South Africa between 1992 and 1997, and was a part of the Springboks team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement issued by the governing body that Small "as a member of the triumphant Rugby World Cup squad from 1995 will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of the South African public and we were devastated to hear of his passing."

"He always played with the type of passion and courage that encapsulate what Springbok rugby stands for, and he lived his life in the same way.

"At 50 years old, James Small died too young. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this very sad time."

Small made his debut for the Springboks against New Zealand in Johannesburg in 1992.

He scored 20 Test tries, the last in his final match for the Springboks, against Scotland. His try, at that stage, broke Danie Gerber's Test record.

He played Tests against New Zealand, Australia, Western Samoa, Fiji, France, Italy, Romania, England, Scotland, Argentina and the British & Irish Lions.

Small played provincial rugby for Transvaal (now the Golden Lions), Natal (now the Sharks) and Western Province, appearing in Currie Cup finals for all three sides and winning the trophy with Natal and WP.

Small turned to coaching after the completion of his playing career, and assisted Robert du Preez at NWU-Pukke and the Leopards before joining Pirates in Johannesburg as assistant coach.

Small is the third player from the 1995 Springboks team to have died.

Ruben Kruger died from brain cancer in 2010, and Joost van der Westhuizen from motor neurone disease in 2017.

The team's Rugby World Cup-winning coach, Kitch Christie, also died, in 1998, after a long battle with cancer.