Former Free State Cheetahs strongman dies of Covid-19

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Dougie Heymans (Gallo)
Dougie Heymans (Gallo)

One of South African rugby's scrumming legends has become one of the fallen victims Covid-19.

The Cheetahs on Monday evening confirmed that Dougie Heymans, an unrelentingly tough prop who represented Free State in 154 matches, lost his battle with the virus. 

He was 58.

"It is with extreme sadness that we note another former Cheetah has succumbed to Covid-19," the union said in a statement on social media.

"Dougie was an excellent player in a particularly difficult position to play in, tighthead. He gave numerous opponents on-field problems. He was unlucky never to have played for the Springboks. 

"He was the anchor for the Free State is so many matches. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to his family, friends and former team-mates."

It's understood that Heymans had been in ICU for some time after contracting the virus.

After an accomplished playing career, he actively stayed involved in the game, becoming assistant director of rugby at the Shimlas.

"We honor the legacy of Dougie Heymans," Marius van Rensburg, Shimlas president, told OFM

"A man with unbelievable work ethics and unconditional love for the Shimlas and rugby at the University of the Free State in general.

"Our hearts go out to Ilse, the children and all his friends and colleagues."

Former Springbok prop Toks van der Linde, who engaged in numerous on-field battles with Heymans at Western Province, also expressed his sadness.

"The tears are flowing. A legend is gone," he wrote on Twitter.

Former Springbok prop Os du Randt, one of South African rugby's bona fide strong men, said Heymans was one of the toughest opponents he ever faced  when he went up against him during something close to "a hundred" scrums at practice.

"As a front-rower, I will always back Dougie Heymans. I cut my teeth playing for a Free State 'B' side against him," said Du Randt as a guest on Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger's bi-weekly Use It or Lose It YouTube chat show.

"You did a lot of hard work there. I can still remember going into a scrum thinking, right Dougie, I've got you now.

"And then you start hearing somebody groaning or can't breathe, and then you suddenly realise, Os, that's you. He just wiggled out of that."

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