Legendary former Free State prop Dougie Heymans has tragically died at the age of 48.
Tributes poured in on Monday night after it was learned that Heymans had succumbed to Covid-19 after spending quite some time in ICU.
Heymans played in 154 games for the Free State and was still active as an administrator at Shimlas rugby. In a recent interview, Springbok icon Os du Randt singled out Heymans as the most challenging opponent he ever faced at scrum time during his illustrious career.
‘As a front rower, I will always back Dougie Heymans. I cut my teeth playing for a Free State B side against him,’ Du Randt explained.
‘In those days, we didn’t gym, so for all your power work, you had to do a hundred scrums, which is unheard of these days. I remember [late former Springbok, EP and Free State coach] Nelie Smith bringing us those little [shoulder] pads that women wore inside their jackets.
‘We had to stitch them in with a needle and thread. When you scrummed, the blood would literally come out of your shoulders.’
The Cheetahs paid tribute to Heymans on Monday night.
‘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 teammates.’
The Cheetah family mourn the passing of another ex-player, Dougie Heymans. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family & loved ones during this difficult time.😔🧡 pic.twitter.com/j9d5Uh3aqH
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) June 14, 2021