SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has paid tribute to the enormous contribution made to South African rugby by Salie Fredericks, who passed away on Thursday in Cape Town.
The former Saru captain fought a longstanding battle against diabetes and had both his legs amputated a while ago as a result of the illness.
The gentle giant played more than 200 provincial matches for Western Province in competitions of the former South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, and later the non-racial South African Rugby Union.
Under his leadership, Western Province won the Rhodes Cup for three years in succession, from 1971 to 1973. Fredericks also showed his great prowess as an exceptional lock in nine 'interracial' Tests against the African Springboks and the SA Rugby Federation’s Proteas between 1963 and 1974, scoring three tries in the process.
Alexander said South African rugby had lost a hugely inspirational figure.
'Salie Fredericks really made a massive mark on our rugby landscape through his contribution on the playing field, his many administrative roles and his community work.
'He comes from a proud rugby tradition that is more than 100 years old and was a giant figure in an era when black people were denied the opportunity to represent South Africa internationally. Like so many other talented and unsung sporting heroes of his time, Salie chose to stay in South Africa and keep the flame of rugby burning while fighting for non-racialism in sport.
'We salute him for his sacrifice and his immense contribution to our rugby, and would like to express our most heartfelt condolences to his family and his large circle of friends.'