Hannes Strydom, a former rugby star and integral part of South Africa’s historic 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning team, has tragically passed away at the age of 58 in a car accident. Strydom, who earned 21 Springbok caps in his career from 1993 to 1997, played a pivotal role in the iconic World Cup victory that followed the end of apartheid in 1994.

The details of the accident, which occurred near the coal mining town of eMalahleni in Mpumalanga province on Sunday, are still unclear. Reports indicate that the vehicle Strydom was traveling in collided with a minibus taxi.

Kobus Wiese, Strydom’s former teammate and close friend, shared that the accident’s specifics remained vague. The South African Rugby Union President, Mark Alexander, paid tribute to Strydom, describing him as “one of the heroes of our local game.”

Strydom’s contributions extended beyond the national team; he played a significant role for the Lions and formed a formidable lock combination with Wiese. Lions Rugby Company CEO Rudolf Straeuli expressed the deep impact of losing another member of the 1995 group, emphasizing the strong bond they shared.

Strydom made his Springbok debut in 1993 and played a crucial role in the historic 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand, securing a 15-12 victory in Johannesburg. He concluded his Springbok career in 1997 after participating in the British and Irish Lions series.

Apart from his rugby accomplishments, Strydom worked as a pharmacist in Pretoria and founded the pharmacy chain Pharma Valu after retiring from rugby. In 2014, he survived a carjacking incident that left him with a cracked skull and stab wounds.

Hannes Strydom becomes the fifth player from the 1995 Springbok team to have passed away, joining the ranks of Ruben Kruger (2010), Joost van der Westhuizen (2017), Chester Williams and James Small (2019), along with coach Kitch Christie in 1998. The rugby community mourns the loss of a true legend and celebrates the indelible mark he left on the sport.