Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This Day in History: South African Springbok Rugby Player, Joost van der Westhuizen, is born



Joost van der Westhuizen (born 20 February 1971) is a former South African rugby union footballer who was the Springboks' first choice scrum-half in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s. He was capped 89 times for the Springboks and scored 38 tries. He retired as the most capped Springbok of all time, a record since broken by Percy Montgomery at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and held the record for the most test tries by a South African player, until it was broken at the 2011 Rugby World Cup by Bryan Habana. His career test try tally of 38 makes him the scrum-half with the most tries in Test Rugby. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest half-backs of all time, as evidenced by his presence in the 2007 induction class of the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

With his uncharacteristically big build for a scrum-half, he was known as an aggressive and fast runner and ferocious defender. Van der Westhuizen was best suited to a very physical type of game, often mixing it up with the forwards. He enjoyed his greatest success when playing alongside Chester Williams and the great fullback, Andre Joubert, especially when they attacked at pace around the blind side of the scrum.

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He played in the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cups. In the former he defended heroically, famously tackling New Zealand's giant wing Jonah Lomu, amongst others leading to the Springbok World Cup victory. Van der Westhuizen's strengths as a rugby player lay in his dangerous ability to 'snipe' around the fringes of rucks, often leading to tries, as well as his fearless defence. Van der Westhuizen was also an inspirational player and captain, a talismanic figure in many successful Springbok sides. Van der Westhuizen played in the 2003 Rugby World Cup before eventually retiring from international rugby, having won every tournament trophy available to a South African rugby player aside from the Super 12 or a series victory over a British and Irish Lions touring team. His honours include the Currie Cup twice (1998 & 2002), a Tri-Nations title (1998) and the World Cup (1995). In July 2004 he joined Supersport as a commentator. His contract with the channel was later terminated.[1]

On 12 May 2011, Van der Westhuizen's publicist announced that he had a muscle related neural disease, believed to be a form of motor neurone disease. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States[2] have since confirmed that the former Springbok captain has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and has only an 80% chance of living for two to five years from diagnosis.[3]

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Controversy


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In February 2009, Rapport newspaper and Heat magazine reported that they had video evidence of him engaging in sex play with a mystery blonde and snorting a white substance.[5] He denied being in the video but admitted knowing the two people in it.[6] although he has never identified who they are. Heat magazine later posted censored versions of the video online.[7] Van der Westhuizen said he would lay criminal charges and civil claims against the producers of the video, but eight months later has not done so.

In March 2009, a mystery former female sports star – thought to be high-jump champion Charmaine Weavers (Gale) – claimed in a very detailed interview in YOU magazine that she had an on-off affair with him, with sexual encounters even while his wife Amor was in hospital.[8] Also in March, a former stripper called Marilize van Emmenis came forward and in an interview with Heat magazine said that she was the girl in the video with Van der Westhuizen, and that they had done drugs together. She passed a polygraph test[9] and her voice was verified by a voice-recognition expert.[10] Van der Westhuizen has refused to comment on this and other subsequent allegations of improper conduct with other women.

On 28 June 2009, Van der Westhuizen was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack, though he was discharged soon afterward when tests found no evidence of heart problems. A panic attack was suspected.[11] On 1 November Van der Westuizen confessed that it was him in the controversial sex video and he apologized for lying. It's around that time that his autobiography was released, "Spieëlbeeld" (Man in the mirror)[12]

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Illness


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In May 2011 van der Westhuizen sought medical assistance after difficulty with slurred speech and the loss of muscle power. Tests have subsequently confirmed that he is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a form of motor neuron disease. Van der Westhuizen's doctor Jody Pearl told South African newspaper The Beeld: "Joost does indeed suffer from ALS, which gives him an 80 per cent chance to live between two and five years."

ALS is incurable. With symptoms including breathing difficulties, speech problems and paralysis, it is fatal in the majority of cases.[13]

Support the J9 Foundation! They assist ALS MND sufferers around the world in their battle with this desease. Click here > http://www.joost.co.za/index.html



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References

  1.     ^ SuperSport statement on Joost, 1/11/2009.
  2.     ^ Suttell, Scott (2011-07-28). "If you're flying out of Cleveland or Akron, you're probably paying more". Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved 2011-07-31. See the heading "Bad news, delivered from Cleveland" at the bottom of the posting.
  3.     ^ Doctor confirms Joost's fears, 2011-07-27
  4.     ^ Joost Heystek Van der Westhuizen Retrieved June 25, 2011. Whoswhosa.co.za. Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  5.     ^ [1][dead link]
  6.     ^ http://www.heat.co.za
  7.     ^ Joostgate Videos. Heat.co.za. Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  8.     ^ http://hottestgossip.co.za/?p=6439
  9.     ^ Marilize's lie-detector test: passed!. heat.co.za (2009-04-03). Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  10.     ^ How Marilize’s voice was verified. heat.co.za (2009-04-03). Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  11.     ^ Panic attack caused Joost's breakdown – South Africa | IOL News. IOL.co.za (2009-07-12). Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  12.     ^ I lied, Joost confesses: News24: South Africa: News. News24 (2009-11-01). Retrieved on 2011-07-20.
  13.     ^ Van der Westhuizen 'has two to five years to live'. Eurosport.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joost_van_der_Westhuizen [20.02.2013]

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