SA Rugby has announced that former president of the South African Rugby Union Silas Nkanunu has died.
Nkanunu, who also served as chairman of Sanzaar and briefly vice-chairman of the International Rugby Board (IRB, now World Rugby) was 87.
Current SA Rugby president Mark Alexander hailed Nkanunu as "a force for good" in the game and a builder of bridges after he came to the sport’s rescue at a time of extreme controversy.
Nkanunu, a human rights lawyer, succeeded Louis Luyt as union president in September 1998 to become its first black African leader.
Nkanunu had been a member of the union’s executive since rugby unity in 1992 and had served as senior vice-president, before he resigned in protest at Luyt's tactics early in 1998. He was elected unopposed for the position of president after Luyt’s removal.
He held the role until the end of 2003 and a disappointing Rugby World Cup year when he stood down in the face of opposition from Brian van Rooyen, who succeeded him as president.
"Silas had many great qualities and skills as an attorney, but perhaps the greatest tribute you can pay is that he was a simply a good man," said Mr Alexander.
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