SA Rugby announced the passing of its former president, Silas Nkanunu, who made history when he succeeded the late Louis Luyt the organisation’s leader in the late 1990s.
Who is Silas Nkanunu?
Having been part of the executive at the sports body since 1992, Nkanunu became the first black African to head the organisation in 1998.
He served in the position for five years, until 2003, when he withdrew his re-election bid, with Brian van Rooyen taking over.
Under Nkanunu’s presidency, the Springboks saw another piece of history as they fielded the first black African to wear the green and gold in Kaya Malotana.
He also served as president of World Rugby’s regulation’s commission, where he was hailed as one of the game’s most distinguished administrators.
In a statement issued out following the news of his passing, members of SA Rugby top brass have expressed their condolences.
These include current president, Mark Alexander, who dubbed Nkanunu – also a human rights attorney – “rugby’s Mandela”.
“Silas had many great qualities and skills as an attorney but perhaps the greatest tribute you can pay is that he was a simply a good man,” said Alexander. “It might sound like faint praise, but he had none of the ego, malice or aggression that sometimes characterises our world and he was an immensely calming and consensual influence at a very difficult time for rugby. “In some ways, you might say he was rugby’s Mandela in that he was a force for good and was able to completely steady the ship in his time in office.”
“No one who met Silas will be able to do anything other than remember him with great affection. “Players talk about being able to leave the jersey in a better position than when you first received it. Silas was certainly able to say that.”
Nkanunu was elected as SA Rugby president unopposed.