Former Springbok and Western Province fullback HO de Villiers died on Sunday. He was 76.
De Villiers, who was born on 10 March 1945 in Johannesburg, played in 14 Tests and another 15 non-Tests for South Africa between 1967 to 1970. He made his Springbok debut against France in Durban in 1967 and scored four conversions and one penalty goal on the day as the hosts beat the visitors from Europe 26-3.
Due to injury problems, De Villiers was forced to retire from the game early in his career. His last international was in 1970 in the drawn Test against Wales in Cardiff. He also represented UCT and Villagers at club level, and played in the blue-and-white hoops of Western Province from 1965 to 1975.
Another big tree has fallen, rest in peach Oom HO de Villiers🙏A true gentleman, brilliant player and true scholar of the game🙏🙏
— Kobus Wiese (@4KobusWiese) February 20, 2022
Yes ROOMS WHAT A LEGEND RIP CHAMP https://t.co/BVCCzXfDTI
— Toks van der Linde (@toksvdl) February 20, 2022
De Villiers underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his brain last year.
“HO de Villiers revolutionised fullback play with his counter-attacks and he was widely regarded as one of the best to represent South Africa,” said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
“Unfortunately, injuries robbed him of the opportunity to play in many more Tests for the Springboks but, if he had the opportunity, he would surely have added many more internationals to his record.
“HO will always go down as one of the legends of Springbok rugby and even today, his name is well known among the rugby fraternity. Sportsmanship and honour were character traits closely associated with him, and that counts more than results in the end.
“To lose any member of the rugby family is a tragedy, but even more so when he was a real gentleman and someone who loved the game, gave back and always maintained a high moral standard.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sandra, their children, family, friends and other loved ones during this time of grief. We hope you will find solace in the memories of a wonderful man who represented South Africa at the highest stage and contributed so much to the game he loved dearly.”
Sadly one of my heroes HODde Villiers has passed had the honour of playing many games against him! His last few years he played with a leg injury and could hardly run at full pace but the love of rugby was his motivation! I remember Newlands absolutely coming alive every time he
— Rob Louw (@roblouw6) February 20, 2022
Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of SA rugby legend HO de Villiers. A delight to watch in any jersey, but we loved him best in our blue and white. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/wRJiVeTrN5
— Ikey Tigers (@ikeytigers) February 20, 2022
Celebrating HO – RIP Bud and send regards to the Rugby heroes in Heaven! https://t.co/ta26SxR30T
— Schalk Burger (@skalabrak) February 20, 2022
Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images