South Africans Mourn Passing of Rugby Legend Jonah Lomu

South Africans are heartbroken today by the news that All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu has sadly passed away at his home in Auckland, New Zealand. The much-loved rugby hero, who was catapulted to worldwide fame after the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, was only 40-years-old.

Jonah Lomu
Source: Facebook

Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), said: “We woke up to the news of Jonah’s sudden passing this morning and I speak for the whole South African rugby community when I say we are deeply, deeply shocked and moved by this news.”

Lomu’s wife, Nadene, made the announcement earlier today, saying: “It is with great sadness that I must announce my dear husband Jonah Lomu died last night.” She asked for privacy after this “devastating loss”, particularly for their two young sons “as we take them through this traumatic time.”

Although Lomu had had an ongoing battle with kidney problems for years (and received a kidney transplant in 2004), his death – from a cardiac arrest – was unexpected. He was last seen by the media just yesterday, arriving at Auckland airport.

Earlier this year he told the Daily News in the UK that his goal was to make it to his sons’ 21st birthdays. That was not to be. Sadly Brayley and Dhyreille are still only 6 and 5 respectively.

“There are no guarantees that will happen, but it’s my focus. It’s a milestone that every parent wants to get to,” he told the paper in August. “My dad died young and that makes you think.”

At the time of the interview, Jonah was desperate for a second kidney transplant after his first had been rejected by his body in 2011; and was described as a “prisoner of dialysis”.

Springbok winger Bryan Habana, who equalled Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 Rugby World Cup tries last month, tweeted: “His on field fearlessness was matched by his off field humility. So sad to wake to the news of @JONAHTALILOMU’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

“It was a privilege to have met you, to have been inspired by you and to watch you make the biggest impact we have ever seen on the game we love so dearly #GameChanger #GlobalSuperstar #RIPJonahLomu??”

Jonah Lomu and Joost van der Westhuizen

Lomu was in South Africa earlier this year making a documentary, “Back to South Africa”, as he met up with old and new friends 20 years after the 1995 RWC. During his visit he was a guest at the South African Rugby Union (SARU) Player of the Year Awards, and visited his former Springbok rival Joost van der Westhuizen, who suffers from motor neurone disease.

During the incredibly moving visit (see video below), Lomu said to Joost: “You know what, the most satisfying thing is that I can call you a friend.”

This morning Joost wrote: “Difficult to write with eyes full of tears on my eye tracker. Thank you for EVERYTHING Jonah. RIP my dear friend!”

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 08: SuperSport Try of the Year, Oupa Mohoja during the SA Rugby Player of the Year Awards at Vodaworld on February 08, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 08: SuperSport Try of the Year, Oupa Mohoja during the SA Rugby Player of the Year Awards at Vodaworld on February 08, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

SARU’s president Hoskins said: “Jonah was a simply unbelievable player but, as much as he was a mighty All Black, he had a special place in South African hearts because of the connection we made in 1995.

“He was a credit to his country and a world ambassador for the game, loved as much for his humility and generosity of spirit as his playing. His passing leaves a hole in all our rugby lives.

“I would like to pass on the condolences of the South African rugby community to the entire New Zealand rugby community but most particularly to Jonah’s family and closest friends.”

Watch Video: Jonah Lomu catching up with his old rival and friend Joost van der Westhuizen

If you cannot view the video below, please refresh the page:

Just watched the most powerful Rugby Documentary to date, Jonah Lomu – Back To RSA.Visits his old rival, Joost Van Der Westhuizen who suffers from motor neurone disease.”You know what, the most satisfying thing is that I can call you a friend”- Jonah Lomu #Rugbybrotherhood #Lifelongfriends

Posted by Mike Limã on Friday, 18 September 2015

Just watched the most powerful Rugby Documentary to date, Jonah Lomu – Back To RSA.Visits his old rival, Joost Van Der Westhuizen who suffers from motor neurone disease.”You know what, the most satisfying thing is that I can call you a friend”- Jonah Lomu #Rugbybrotherhood #Lifelongfriends

Posted by Mike Limã on Friday, September 18, 2015

Tweet from Joost van der Westhuizen after Jonah’s visit in February:

Watch Video: Jonah Lomu – “Back to South Africa” Trailer

Here’s the trailer of Jonah Lomu’s “Back to South Africa”. It forms part of a new seris around the world called “The Book of Jonah L”. The film is directed by Benoit Pensivy (@pensivy on Twitter) and the full movie is available on iTunes Store (TV series).

Bryan Habana’s Tweet:

Joost van der Westhuizens’s Tweet:

A Tribute from one of Lomu’s best friends, New Zealand radio presenter Polly Gillespie (it was her estranged husband and fellow presenter Grant Kereama who donated his kidney to Lomu in 2004):

My heart is smashed..I don’t know what to do with my aching heart. I don’t want to answer the phone. I can’t…

Posted by Polly Gillespie on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Video: Tribute to Lomu

Video: Lomu’s Greatest Hits

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