Former Springbok great John Gainsford dies

2015-11-18 13:23
John Gainsford (

Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union has extended its condolences to the family of legendary Springbok centre John Gainsford, who passed away on Wednesday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 77.

Gainsford established himself as one of the greatest centres of his generation due to his powerful bursts and rock-solid defence. He earned 33 Test caps and scored eight tries during his Springbok career between 1960 and 1967, playing in 71 Springbok matches in total (including tour matches). He remained the most capped Springbok centre until as recently as 2001 when his record was finally overtaken by Japie Mulder.

Gainsford was a world-renowned player, who emerged from the Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town. He made his Springbok debut on April 30, 1960 against Scotland at the young age of 21 and played his last Test at the age of 28.

During his illustrious career he surpassed the record of 28 Test matches by Johan Claassen to become the most capped Springbok.

Gainsford’s was a meteoric talent. He was selected for Villagers’ first team at the tender age of 17 and two years later was selected to represent Western Province’s senior team. The following season he represented the Junior Springbok team in Argentina.

Later that year he made his Springbok debut in a Test series against New Zealand and soon after he proved to be the star player in the Springboks’ five-Test tour of Europe.

One of his most notable achievements was the two tries he scored during the 1962 British Lions tour, which contributed to the Springboks’ series victory. In later life he became a member of the Western Province Rugby Union executive.

“I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Gainsford family for their loss,” said SARU president Oregan Hoskins.

“John was a superstar of his generation and a he will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks to have played the sport. He believed that rugby was played to be won, and he demonstrated this on the field with his line breaks, raw pace and power. I met him on many occasions. He was a great man.”

Gainsford is survived by his wife Shona, children Murray, Lindsay, Kirk and Shona-Leigh and 11 grandchildren.

Read more on:    springboks  |  rugby

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