Gavin Varejes Says Goodbye to Joost van der Westhuizen

A Eulogy for a Friend

When Rugby Legend Joost van der Westhuizen succumbed to motor neuron disease (MND) in February 2017, South Africa was shocked and saddened at the loss. Sports enthusiasts and members of the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) flocked to the memorial service to pay their respects, as did Gavin Varejes, President of SARLA, who delivered a moving eulogy.

Gavin Varejes and Joost van der Westhuizen

Joost and Varejes met in the late 1990s and nurtured an open and honest friendship ever since. As Captain of the Legends team, Joost was deeply involved with SARLA and committed to the cause. In 2011, Varejes noticed that he was slurring his words and walking with an unsteady gait. As the problem persisted, Joost became concerned about his unsteadiness and went for medical checkups. Soon thereafter, in April of the same year Joost was diagnosed with MND and told he had less than two years to live.Gavin Varejes and Joost

Joost: Rugby Player, Legend and Friend

As one would expect, van der Westhuizen’s initial response was utter devastation, but Joost was blessed with a can-do attitude that was an inspiration to Gavin Varejes, thousands of rugby enthusiasts and the whole nation. On and off the playing field, he gave many people hope and something to believe in during the darkest of times. Varejes described him as a loyal and brutally honest friend, who expected a great deal from himself as a player and a person. He lived life to the fullest and found joy in the little things. From Joost’s point of view, the glass was never half empty or half full – it was always full of water and air because both are vital resources. The memory of Joost van der Westhuizen will forever remind us of the essence and power of real friendship and brotherhood. He taught us to never give up, and he practiced what he preached with great enthusiasm until the bitter end.


7 responses to “Gavin Varejes Says Goodbye to Joost van der Westhuizen

  1. Wow! What a great example from Joost, I love him with his decision that’s what they a man, to follow his heart and leave the past behind, and for Gavin Varejes you are a nice friend and awesome. May his soul rest in peace. Great article I love it.

  2. Mr. Joost is one highly ambitious guy! May His Soul rest in peace! In addition to being A Rugby legend, he has won the heart of many by his invaluable philanthropic work and so much more. It’s good to know that Mr. Gavin is a friend to Joost! I hope he continues with this legacy.

  3. Ohhhh. What a lose. Joost van der Westhuizen we will miss you. We love you but God loves you more. The impact you had on people will continue to live.

  4. Joost was indeed an inspiration to many in the rugby fraternity and his loss was a big blow to the South African rugby fraternity. It must have been awesome to have him as a friend.

  5. Joost van der Westhuizen will forever be missed especially by Rugby fans. South rugby will never be the same after his unfortunate departure. Rest in peace Sir

  6. Wow! Joost this is an unbelievable for a man to hear that is going to die in the next two years and he didn’t lose hope, this is the type of man to follow. For you Mr Gavin Verejes u a good friend indeed and wonderful. May he rest in peace.

  7. Indeed, Joost was blessed but we cannot question God about death. What a great loss. Rest in Peace.

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