The rugby world was saddened to hear of the sudden death of All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The imposing winger first crashed onto the global scene at the dawn of professional rugby, at the 1995 World Cup and is hailed as the man who changed the face of rugby forever.
Lomu had been diagnosed with a serious kidney condition, nephrotic syndrome by 1996 and had a kidney transplant in 2004. However the organ stopped functioning in 2011 and he had been relying on dialysis ever since.
No cause of death has been put forward, but family spokesman and ex-All Black doctor John Mayhew told television stations in New Zealand that Lomu’s death was “totally unexpected” after he and his family arrived back from the UK and the Rugby World Cup on Tuesday.
He is survived by wife Nadene who said in a statmeent today: “It is with great sadness that I must announce my dear husband Jonah Lomu died (overnight).
“This is a devastating loss for our family and may I ask that our privacy, especially the privacy of our two very young boys, be respected as we take them through this traumatic time.”
Since then tributes have been pouring in. NZRFU chief executive Steve Tew said: “Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world.”
Former team-mates like Sean Fitzpatrick and Tana Umaga expressed condolences and shock.
As did former opponents like Will Carling, Jonny Wilkinson, Joel Stransky, and Christophe Dominici.
Of course, Lomu inspired a generation of players, not only in New Zealand but worldwide. Here is a selection of recognisable names remembering the ‘big man’.
Of course, if you want to relive some of the best Jonah moments, here is a video of the great man scoring all of his World Cup tries, and below is a Podcast Rugby World recently did, looking back on the majesty of the 1995 World Cup and Jonah’s role in it.