James Small (born 10 February 1969) was a former South African rugby union footballer 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. He was also the leading try scorer in the 1996 Super 12 season.
Small passed away on the 10th of July 2019 after succumbing to a heart attack. His family confirmed the news to Netwerk24.
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.
He stated that the reason for this was because, 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.
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 semi-final against England, but Small and his teammates managed to contain Lomu, preventing him from scoring. The Springboks won the match and the Cup.
Controversy seemed to follow him around, but the fact is he was an individual, which is still rare in today’s rugby.
James Small was a World Cup winner and a rugby legend, who knew how to score tries!