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