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Joost van der Westhuizen Says Goodbye

Updated on February 11, 2017
Joost as a Springbok Rugby Player
Joost as a Springbok Rugby Player


Joost van der Westhuizen well known for his rugby triumph as a Springbok in the South African Rugby world cup 1995 and 1999. He was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa and played as a scrum half in the mid to late 90's and early 2000s. Joost was capped 89 times and scored 38 tries.

He retired as the most capped Springbok rugby player of all time and held the record for the most test tries and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

He was known as an aggressive and fast runner and a phenominal defender.

Joost played in the 2003 World Cup and retired, having won every trophy available to a Soth African rugby player.

van der Westhuizen earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Pretoria.

In July 2004 he joined Supersport as a commentator and his contract was later terminated.

In 2012 he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with only an 80% chance of living for two to five years after diagnosis.

Joost, Amor and kids
Joost, Amor and kids
Joost with Amor
Joost with Amor

Family Life

Joost married Amor Vittone in December 2002. They have two children, a son of 7years and a daughter of five years old.

van der Westhuizen and Vittone separated after an explicit tape came out with Joost and a stripper while he was married to Amor. Other stories came out that he had been having affairs during their marriage and it was said that Amor had done the same.

Joost had apparently taken drugs with the stripper and a tape was made to exploit Joost for money. It was also said that he had an affair with a woman while his wife was in hospital.

Amor filed for divorce and wanted to get a restraining order against Joost.

He lives for his two children and both he and Amor have become amicable for the sake of their children and his disease.

He is from a family of five with three brothers and a loving relationship with both parents and his three siblings.

Joost van der Westhuisen in 2013
Joost van der Westhuisen in 2013
Joost van der Westhuizen, South African Rugby Legend
Joost van der Westhuizen, South African Rugby Legend | Source

Motor Neuron Disease

The motor neuron diseases are a group of severe disorders that attack the brain and spinal chord. They destroy the motor neurons which are the nerve cells that control the muscles used for walking, speaking, swallowing and breathing.

MND (motor neuron disease) disrupt the signals from the motor neurons to the muscles resulting in a gradual weakening and wasting away of muscle and uncontrollable twitching. It is also commonly known as the Lou Gehrig's disease.

Eventually the ability to control voluntary movement can be lost.

Joost was diagnosed two years ago with the disease also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (MND) and has desperatelt tried to find a cure but up to date there is no cure and patients are given a standard treatment to relieve symptoms and mame them more comfortable.

A drug called riluzole is available but it only prolongs life by a few months but it is a fatal disease and in some neuron diseases, such as primary lateral sclerosis are not fatal.

Some say it is hereditory but in most cases it is triggered by cancer or chronic exposure to toxic drugs and toxins.

Research for this disease is ongoing and Joost has formed a foundation to find a cure.

J9 Foundation

The J9 Foundation was formed by Joost in aid of those suffering from the same form of fatal illnesses.

The foundation allows companies, people and friends to support the quality of life programs available and it is a support system for those struggling with the illness.

Joost started this foundation in 2011, after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Joost's Private Life

In 2001 Joost and his wife of 6 years divorced and he married Amor Vittone with whom he had two children. A video surfaced and ruined his marriage and career which took him onto a downward spiral and he apologised for denying that he was in the video in 2009.

In 2011 is was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and he was again divorced but throughout the disease his ex wife remained a friend and supported him as his children were said to be the most important people in his life.

Joost set up a charity to raise funds for people with the disease and he was diagnosed with only five years to live but pushed on for a couple more knowing that everyday could be his last.

A Rugby Legend Dies

Joost passed away on the 6th February 2017 after a long and hard struggle with motor neuron disease. His send off was a memorial service which was held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa where all of his fans, friends and family gathered in a warm and emotional send off that was shown on television around the world in tribute to "Number 9"who was and always will be remembered for the great efforts in rugby in the 1995 World Cup final.

Doves were released and a helicopter flew over the stadium simulating the 1995 game but this time in celebration and tribute to Joost van der Westhuizen, the number 9 that will always be remembered as one of the greatest rugby players of all time and the crowds of people were in Springbok colours and Blue Bulls jerseys as a tribute to the great Scrumhalf.

It was a moving and emotional memorial service and Joost had once said that he perhaps got the disease to find a cure to help others in the future. His foundation will continue to fight the disease for others and his legacy will continue on.

Family and friends had warm words to say about the star and many of his team mates from the original Springbok rugby team attended the service and said that they would ensure his legacy continue on. The national anthem was performed and the South African flag was placed onto his modest casket as the nation said goodbye to their hero who fought well on the field and who fought a good fight in his long battle with a dreaded disease.


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