Video: Emotional tribute to Joost van der Westhuizen precedes Italy vs Ireland
All of the week’s build-up centred on Ireland's pressing need for a bonus point win against Italy this afternoon, but both sides took a brief moment to pay respects to South African scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen, who sadly passed away last week aged 45.
A long standing battle with motor neurone disease which began in 2011 reached a cruel end on Monday, with the player credited as the best scrum-half of the modern era following 90 caps and 38 tries for the Springboks in a career spanning a decade.
RIP Joost van der Westhuizen, 1971-2017. Condolences to the family and friends of a true Springbok hero. pic.twitter.com/ZZ7IBEBcyE— South African Rugby (@Springboks) February 6, 2017
There was a minute’s applause by both sets of teams before the game kicked off at the Stadio Olimpico for a man given recognition for changing the way in which the modern game was played as opponents attempted to overrule his strength and physical dominance.