Country will miss Chester

2019-09-12 06:01
Chester Williams in a jovial mood at home in Plattekloof. PHOTO: WILLIAM MCINTOSH/KAAPSE SON

Chester Williams in a jovial mood at home in Plattekloof. PHOTO: WILLIAM MCINTOSH/KAAPSE SON

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The country is still in shock after the sudden death of Chester Williams (49) on Friday 6 September due to a heartattack.

He was the “face” of the victorious 1995 World Cup team of Francois Pienaar and Pienaar said in a radio interview that the 1995 team was still recovering from the death of James Small two months ago to deal with another team member’s death.

In his tribute to Chester Dougie Dyers, his coach and mentor as a 19-year-old for the then Western Province League, said that every time one of the players he coached through the years dies, another piece of his heart dies.

“I am proud on what he achieved and that he came from the SA Rugby Federation. His standards in his personal life and rugby career were very high. He paved the way for all black and coloured rugby players who dreamt of becoming a Springbok, that it can be achieved.

“The honour for all Chester’s achievements can be traced back to his family ties and the coaches and mentors he had growing up in Paarl. His dad, Wilfred, uncles, Avril and Randall, as well as his uncle from his late mom’s side, Adam Dombas, all played representative rugby. Avril became the second Springbok after Errol Tobias in 1984 and he and Chester had a close bond,” Dyers said.

He also said that the late Bill Jacobs, the rugby club Albions, the Klein Nederburg Primary and High School, and the rugby fraternity in Paarl, moulded Chester and the late Tinus Linee.

“Both of them played as centres for the Craven Week teams of the Western Province League, in the senior team before joining Western Province and becoming Springboks in 1993. Chester became the third and Tinus the fourth Springbok from the Federation. Both were advertisements to young players in our communities who didn’t have the opportunities to represent their country like they had,” Dyers said.

Other coaches besides Dyers and teachers that were part of h is rugby career were Norman Mbiko (SA 7s), Charles Williams, Wessel Seconds and the late Phillip Abrahams.Chester was coached.

Avril, fondly known as A, said he’ll miss their chats about life and family.

“When I became a Springbok Chester was 14 years old and he admired me and what I have achieved in rugby after making my debut in 1984 against Billy Beaumont’s English side. He always said that he’ll be a Bok one day. I never thought that we would play together taking the age gap into consideration but this was achieved when we were both selected for the SA Defence team that toured overseas as the centres.

“His outreaches to the community of Paarl at large were one of his attributes that I admired. This part of him was never publicised in the papers because he kept it under wraps. I’ll miss his humbleness, broad smile, interaction with young and old, whether for a picture or to sign a hat or rugby program, or just to pick up the phone for a laugh or a chat if something happened in our lives,” A said.

Charles Williams, one of his coaches, said that Chester was a quiet person and spoke very little.

“In 1991 I was very unpopular amongst the rugby publick because I selected him and Tienie for the WP League and dropped the then captain Wilfred Cupido. He and Tinus complimented each other on the park with their tackling and in attack, I’ve never seen a formidable combination like them again. He always returned to the Paarl community and his friendship with Tinus lasted until Tinus died in 2014 of motor-neuron-sickness,” Williams said.

Pompies Williams, his captain at Paarl Leauge, said that Chester showed potential at a very young age when he attended the Federation Week at the army base of the SA Coloured Corps in Faure, a rugby week similar to the Craven Week, before it was integrated.

“He never became bigger than rugby and always put rugby first. He never allowed politics to dictate his life and believed that sport can unite a community and that you can overcome differences. His dad was a staunch Albions player, while his uncle from his late mom’s side, supported Rangers, Williams said.

Chester and Tinus were the first rugby players that I interviewed when I was a rugby reporter at Die Burger and they launched my career as a rugby writer.

“A week before his passing he asked me if he will be seeing me in Dubai again, as I am attending the Dubai 7s annually since 2012. We always chatted when we were in Dubai and I remember last year when a six-year-old grabbed his pants with his cap in his hand for his autograph. Chester knelt down to be on the same level as the child and signed and chatted to the child. He was always surprised that young and old still remembers him, although the young ones were not even born in 1995. In that same year we attended the presidential awards at Tuynhuys and when Madiba asked him if I was his fianceé he smiled and said, no I am his Rugby Mom, that will stay with me for the rest of my life, as he and Tinus were my first rugby children,” Avril Fillies, said.

A memorial service will be held tonight at 19:00 at the Boland Cricket Stadium in Paarl and his funeral is Saturday at 12:00 at Newlands Stadium.

He leaves his wife, Maria, and three children behind.

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