Chester Williams

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Chester Williams
Birth nameChester Mornay Williams
Date of birth (1970-08-08) 8 August 1970 (age 48)
Place of birthPaarl, South Africa
Height1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in)
Weight84 kg (13 st 3 lb)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Western Province
Golden Lions
63 -
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
1999–2000 Cats - -
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1993–2000 South Africa 27 (70)
National sevens team(s)
Years Team Comps
1993–1998 South Africa
Teams coached
Years Team
South Africa 7's
RCM Timişoara

Chester Mornay Williams (born 8 August 1970) is a former South African rugby union rugby player. He played as a winger for the Springboks from 1993 to 2000. Williams also played rugby for the Western Province in the Currie Cup.

Taking on an entirely new challenge in 2010, Williams completed the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, joining several former Springbok Rugby players who have also taken on the rugged challenge of the Untamed African MTB Race.

Playing career[edit]

Williams is best known as the star winger of the South Africa national Springbok team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup against New Zealand and was nicknamed "The Black Pearl". Williams was selected in the initial squad, but had to withdraw due to injury. He was later called back into the squad and first played in the quarter final, scoring 4 tries.

Clint Eastwood directed Invictus, which is about the 1995 Rugby World Cup and how it helped South Africa heal after years of apartheid. It features many scenes involving Chester, including his face on the side of an SAA aeroplane and several scenes showing how black children in South Africa idolised him. Chester Williams is listed as one of the film's Rugby Coaches in the end credits. He is portrayed by McNeil Hendricks in the film.

Williams is 1.74 metres (5 feet 9 inches) tall with a playing weight of 84 kilograms (185 lb). He was the first non-white player to be included in the Springboks squad since Errol Tobias and his uncle Avril Williams in the early 1980s. The selection of non-white players was not common in South Africa before 1992 because of the country's policy of apartheid.[citation needed]

He made his debut for the Springboks at the age of 23 against Argentina on 13 November 1993 in Buenos Aires, a game that the Springboks went on to win 52–23 and in which he also scored a try. Williams was on the Springboks team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, notably scoring four tries against Western Samoa in the quarter finals. His Boks career, hampered by knee injuries in 1996 and 1997, ended with a 23–13 win against Wales on 26 November 2000 in Cardiff. In total he played 27 games for the Springboks, scoring 14 tries. His honours included a Currie Cup win in 1999, with the Golden Lions, formally Transvaal Rugby Union, a Tri-Nations title in 1998 albeit he only made two short appearances as substitute and the World Cup win in 1995.


In 2002 Williams released his controversial authorised biography, simply titled "Chester", in which he claimed that he was shunned by some of his team mates in the 1995 Springbok squad and was called racist names by James Small,[1] though he later clarified, "When we were together as a team, the team-spirit was good. We partied together, we had fun together, we stuck by one another. Those other things happened while we were playing against one another in the Currie Cup or domestic competitions. But that's in the past now. We have all moved on and everybody's happy."[2]

Coaching career[edit]

In 2001 Williams was selected as the coach of the South African sevens team that won bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and ended runners up in the World Sevens Series. He remained sevens coach until 2003.

Despite having almost no experience at coaching the fifteen-man code at any senior level, Williams was mentioned as one of the possible successors to Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli after he resigned in 2003, but when the job was given to Jake White in 2004 he became coach of the Cats Super 12 team instead. He remained coach until July 2005 when he was fired after a series of extremely poor results, when the Cats finished next-to-last in the 2005 super 12, achieving only one victory. However, in 2006, he was brought back into the South African coaching ranks as the head coach of the national "A" side (a developmental side for the Boks).[3]

He was named as the new coach of the Pumas, the team representing Mpumalanga in the Currie Cup, on 7 September 2006. He signed a two-year deal with the team, effective 1 October 2006, but resigned as coach in mid-2007.

He was one of the four named candidates to replace Jake White as Springbok coach. On 9 January 2008, Peter de Villiers was appointed as the next coach.[4]

Williams currently serves as head coach of University of the Western Cape in Varsity Rugby. Under his leadership UWC won the 2017 Varsity Shield competition.

He was also one of the few South Africans invited to carry the Olympic torch in 2004 on its way to Athens.


  1. ^ Keohane, Mark (2002). Chester – A Biography of Courage. Don Nelson. ISBN 1-86806-209-0.
  2. ^ "Chester Williams: Win of change". 9 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2013.[dead link]
  3. ^ News | Rugby News Archived 9 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Peter de Villiers new Springbok coach". 9 January 2008. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2008.

External links[edit]