James Small (rugby player)

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James Small
Date of birth(1969-02-10)February 10, 1969
Place of birthCape Town, South Africa
Date of deathJuly 10, 2019(2019-07-10) (aged 50)
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight89 kg (196 lb; 14.0 st)
SchoolGreenside High School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Western Province ()
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
Natal Sharks ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1992–1997 South Africa 47 (100)

James Small (10 February 1969 – 10 July 2019) was a South African rugby union rugby player who played on the wing for the Springboks. His international debut was against the All Blacks in 1992 and he made his final appearance against Scotland in 1997. In that final test match, he scored his 20th try, becoming the leading Springbok try scorer, eclipsing Danie Gerber's record.[1][2] He was also the leading try scorer in the 1996 Super 12 season.

Small died on Wednesday morning of 10 July 2019 after succumbing to a heart attack.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Small was born in Cape Town[1] and attended Risidale Primary School and Greenside High School in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Rugby career[edit]

After the fall of apartheid, when the Springboks were being taught the lyrics to the new South African national anthem, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", Small was particularly enthusiastic about learning the lyrics.[4] He stated that the reason for this was because that in his early days of playing rugby, he too was discriminated against, by Afrikaner players for being of British descent rather than Dutch like they were.[4] When the Springboks visited Robben Island on a tour, Small was very moved by what he saw and visibly wept,[4] recalling later that "Thinking about Mandela's cell and how he spent twenty-seven years in prison and came out with love and friendship. All that washed over me, that huge realization, and the tears just rolled down my face."[4]

Small faced Jonah Lomu as his opposite man in the final of the 1995 World Cup. Lomu had scored four tries in New Zealand's semifinal against England, but Small and his teammates managed to contain Lomu, preventing him from scoring. The Springboks won the match and the Cup.

Small's career was marred by his verbal abuse of others on the rugby field, gaining notoriety as being the "bad boy" of the Springbok team.[1][4] He became the first Springbok to ever be sent off, as a result of dissent towards referee Ed Morrison.[5] Small was also alleged by his teammate Chester Williams to have uttered racist abuse towards him in his authorised biography, though as an opponent in provincial rugby, not as a Springbok teammate.[4][6]

Business interests[edit]

During his time as rugby player, Small worked as a model.[4] He owned a number of restaurants including Café Caprice in Camps Bay.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "SA Rugby Player Profile – James Small". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  2. ^ Bill McLaren. James Small - The Record Breaker (video). Real Rugby. Event occurs at 33:30 - 35:10. Retrieved 10 Feb 2018.
  3. ^ "BREAKING: Springbok legend James Small dies". Sport. 2019-07-10. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Carlin, John. Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. Retrieved 3 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Interview: Chester Williams". The Guardian. 18 November 2002. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  6. ^ Keohane, Mark (2002). Chester - A Biography of Courage. Don Nelson. ISBN 1-86806-209-0.
  7. ^ "Cafe Caprice". iafrica.com. iafrica. 2004-03-25. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2019.

External links[edit]