Thursday 30 March 2017

Van der Westhuizen and Tanner made enormous contributions to the game

Joost van der Westhuizen. Photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Joost van der Westhuizen. Photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Professor Arthur Tanner. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

It's been a sad few days for rugby at home and abroad with the passing of former South African great Joost van der Westhuizen and the Leinster chief medical officer for the best part of 20 years, Professor Arthur Tanner.

They were two passionate rugby men from either side of the white line and each called to their eternal reward much too soon. Van der Westhuizen was a World Cup winner in 1995 and a scrum-half way ahead of his time.

He was similar in physique and playing style to Welsh scrum-half Terry Holmes who preceded him and to Conor Murray in the modern era.

Built like an ox, he was and ultra-competitive ninth forward and a class tactician to boot. For a decade he wore the No 9 Springbok shirt scoring 38 tries for his country - a record only surpassed by Bryan Habana in 2014.

For the last six years of his all-too-short life he battled the debilitating Motor Neurons Disease.

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Professor Tanner was not only synonymous with Leinster Rugby in its transition from amateur to professional but he was also the medical voice of reason. Arthur would always give you the medical diagnosis as it was but equally would give his personal take on the extent of any injury.

His happy, easy-going personality made him immensely popular with players, backroom staff and medical colleagues alike.

He was so approachable and always willing to offer advice irrespective of the player and/or the level he played.

Put simply Arthur Tanner was the definitive player's doctor. He will be sadly missed by an enormous circle of friends and all who knew him but most of all by his wife Ann and by children Jocelyn, Patrick and Jamie.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh siad.

Irish Independent

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