The Nelson Mandela Foundation is saddened by the untimely passing of Chester Williams. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
He was a member of the 1995 Springbok side which won the Rugby World Cup in a moment made emblematic by Nelson Mandela’s presence and embrace of the national team as a symbol of the nation-building that our country required. The only black member of the team, Williams was a symbol of the transformation work waiting to be done in rugby and in the broader society.
In later years Williams promoted transformation in rugby tirelessly. His was an uphill struggle. It is no accident that just two years after the World Cup triumph Madiba found himself in court pressing for the systemic change his 1995 gesture of generosity had created space for. When the Springboks won the World Cup again in 2007 there were only two black members in the side.
The work of transformation in rugby and in society has a long road to travel. We honour South Africans like Chester Williams, who reached the highest level of excellence while devoting himself to making excellence a possibility for all.
Lala kahle Chester Williams. You will be sorely missed for your courage, on the field and off it.