- SA Rugby paid its respects to former South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) vice-president Mluleki George, who died on Monday.
- SA Rugby president Mark Alexander called George "one of the icon figures of our historic sports unification process".
- George served on the IRB's board from 1994 to 1997 and later re-joined SARU's board in 2003.
SA Rugby paid its respects to former South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) vice-president Mluleki George, who died on Monday due to Covid-19 aged 72.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander called George, who also served on the International Rugby Board (IRB, now World Rugby) executive council, "one of the icon figures of our historic sports unification process".
"He was genuinely one of the icon figures of our historic sports unification process, and we know of course that rugby was closest to his heart," said Alexander.
"Mluleki was a colossal, calming figure during a very turbulent time in the fight for freedom and the ensuing transition period to a democratic South Africa.
"He was a very principled man, a skilful negotiator and will always be remembered for his unselfish fight for human rights and the dignity of all people in South Africa.
"On behalf of the South African rugby community, I want to offer our most sincere condolences to the George family and his wide circle of friends."
George, who was also an African National Congress (ANC) member and was sentenced to five years on Robben Island, also served as the Border Rugby Union president in the early 1970s until his 1976 arrest for political activity.
Upon his release, he remained in politics and became a founding member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983.
He was also later one of the founders of political party COPE (Congress of the People), following Thabo Mbeki's tempestuous ousting as President in 2008, after losing the ANC presidency in Polokwane a year prior, where George was Mbeki's re-election campaign manager.
He returned to Border in 1991, around the time he played an integral role in the rugby unity talks that led to the unification of various rugby federations into the then SARFU, which later became the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
He served on the IRB's board from 1994 to 1997 and later re-joined SARU's board in 2003.
Although latterly he became more involved in national politics and became a member of parliament and deputy defence minister, he remained revered for his role as a sport administrator during some of the most racially-charged and divided times in South Africa.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) confirmed on Wednesday that George succumbed to the coronavirus.
- Compiled by Sport24 staff