Cape Town - Former Springbok wing Tom van Vollenhoven, who became a rugby league star, passed away at the age of 82 this past weekend.
Van Vollenhoven played seven Tests for the Springboks between 1955 and 1956, but will best be remembered for an exceptional career in rugby league.
Van Vollenhoven quit rugby union and left South Africa to play the professional game in the late 1950s.
He became a rugby league sensation at St Helens in England and played 409 games for the club between 1957 and 1968.
According to the club’s official website, Van Vollenhoven scored 392 tries and 1 176 points during his St Helens career.
Before switching codes, Van Vollenhoven played for Northern Transvaal and scored a hat-trick of tries for the Springboks against the British Lions at Newlands in 1955.
St Helens chairperson Eamonn McManus said the club was saddened to hear of Van Vollenhoven’s passing.
“Everyone at the club and in the town of St Helens would like to express our sincere condolences to Tom’s wife Leone and to his family,” McManus said.
“Tom was one of St Helens’ and rugby league’s greatest ever players: a true great amongst greats. He lit up the game during its great era in the 1950s and 60s. There may be possible debate over who was St Helens’ best ever player but there is no doubt over who is our most loved and revered player: it is Tom van Vollenhoven.
“His passing is of great sadness but his life and his rugby career is one only of inspiration and of heart-warming memories. The name of St Helens will always be much the richer because of the decade during which Tom Van Vollenhoven wore our shirt with unparalleled success, pride and distinction.”