Williams passed away on Friday at the age of 49.
“Chester Williams’s death at this tender age leaves all South Africans bereft of a rugby hero and national role model who still had a great deal to offer his sport and his country.
“We will miss the humility and joy of life with which Chester conducted himself during an illustrious career that inspired hundreds of thousands of South African children who had previously been excluded from rugby, to take up the game,” the President said.
Williams earned national and international acclaim with his contribution, alongside that of recently deceased wing James Small, to South Africa’s triumph in the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Most recently, Williams established himself as a highly successful coach who led the University of the Western Cape to victory in the 2017 Varsity Shield.
“We salute him for the extraordinary achievements he recorded in a life that has sadly ended prematurely,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President has offered his sincerest condolences to the family, friends, former teammates and teams with whom Williams shared his life.
Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture Chairperson Beauty Dlulane said Williams belonged to a golden generation of rugby players who changed the history of South Africa.
“The influence he had among teammates, and the people who did not know him, is immeasurable. The country and the rugby community expected a lot from him. He was a man who never tire to give back to the community through involvement with his foundation,” Dlulane said.
Western Cape MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, said Williams was an iconic Springbok, a true leader and devoted advocate of rugby at the University of the Western Cape, the greater province, country at large and the world over.
“Always generously smiling, Chester led by example through compassionate inspiration, determined motivation and his profoundly deep love for our beloved country. His presence, acumen and passionate drive will surely be missed in South African sport, particularly in the Western Cape,” Marais said.