Former Springbok star lock and coach, dies

2019-01-07 14:14
Johan Claassen (File)
Johan Claassen (File)

Cape Town - President of SA Rugby, Mark Alexander, has paid tribute to former Springbok captain and coach, Professor Johan Claassen, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 89.

Johannes Theodorus Claassen was arguably the leading lineout forward in the world in the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s, forming a formidable locking combination with Salty du Rand. He played 28 Tests for the Springboks between 1955 and 1962, and also captained South Africa nine times. He played a total of 56 matches in the green and gold.

Later in his career, he was a Springbok coach in 21 Tests from 1968 to 1971, a Bok selector and he also chaired the selection committee.

Prof Claassen was born in the region of Prince Albert in the Karoo, but after a collapse in the ostrich farming market his family moved to Potchefstroom where he was educated and played his rugby for Western Transvaal (now the Leopards).

He studied at Potchefstroom University at the start of a lifelong association with the institution first as a student and lecturer in teacher training and then as a professor of biblical studies.

“Prof Claassen left an indelible mark on the South African rugby landscape, as a player, coach and administrator,” said Alexander.

“He was regarded as one of the greats of his era and after his playing days, he remained committed to the game and ensured he ploughed back, especially in his beloved Potchefstroom, where he will be remembered as one of the biggest rugby men ever.

“Prof Claassen had a strong character and was a trustworthy man - which is why he was revered until the day he passed away.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Ada, his children, other family members and friends in this difficult time, but we know they will take solace in the fact that Prof Claassen will live in theirs and others’ memories forever.”

Read more on:    springboks  |  johan claassen  |  rugby


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights

Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Following the conclusion of the various end of year tours to Europe, who is your favourite for the 2019 Rugby World Cup title?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.