SA rugby mourns passing of Springbok scrumhalf great

2014-11-20 00:00

THE South African rugby fraternity was in mourning yesterday after the death of former Springbok and Natal scrumhalf Gawie Visagie.

Visagie died yesterday morning after a brave and lengthy battle with cancer. He was 59 years old.

The scrumhalf joined the Natal Rugby Union from Griqualand West, and went on to play 42 games for Natal from 1981 to 1985.

He is especially remembered for his performance out of position at flyhalf in the 1984 Currie Cup final against Western Province.

KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union CEO Pete Smith told The Witness that he was saddened by the news, having played alongside Visagie in the early eighties.

Smith had been playing for the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, while Visagie was playing at Durban Collegians.

They went on to play alongside each other for Natal.

“I feel blessed, as do many others, to have crossed paths with Gawie. He was such a popular person, and it shows in all

the messages we have received,” Smith said.

After his playing days with Natal, Visagie stayed involved in club rugby and went on to become an adjudicator in the Murray Cup knockout competition.

“He would watch the games and select the man of the match, and was always happy to come down and watch club rugby.”

Former Springbok captain Wynaand Claasen, who led the Boks on the rebel tour to New Zealand, also expressed his sadness at his old friend’s passing.

Claasen played alongside Visagie for Natal during the same period, and the two lived together in a digs.

“I informed all Gawie’s teammates of the 1981 tour and other Springboks about his condition — and since then my e-mail has not stopped working as the ‘good wishes’ poured in. It just showed the character of the man and the high esteem in which he was held by all,” Claasen wrote in a heartfelt e-mail.

Visagie’s 1984 side celebrated their 30-year reunion in August this year at a dinner held in Mount Edgecombe.

His battle with cancer was recognised, and many greats of the game were present to offer their good wishes.

After his playing days, Visagie remained in Durban and ran his own sportswear distribution company — GV Agencies.

Visagie is survived by his wife, Janet, and their two children.

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