Former Springboks captain and coach Johan Claassen dies, aged 89

Former South Africa captain and coach Johan Claassen has passed away at the age of 89.

Claassen played 28 Tests between 1955 and 1962, when he was considered to rank among the game's leading lineout exponents, and captained the side nine times. He played a total of 56 matches in green and gold.

He also coached the Springboks in 21 Tests from 1968 to 1971 before becoming a selector and chair of the selection committee.

Claassen was born in the Karoo, but he was educated in Potchefstroom, and played his rugby there for Western Transvaal (now the Leopards), after the ostrich farming market collapsed.

He studied at Potchefstroom University and developed a lifelong association with the institution as a student and lecturer in teacher training and then as a professor of biblical studies.

"Professor Claassen left an indelible mark on the South African rugby landscape, as a player, coach and administrator," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.

"He was regarded as one of the greats of his era and after his playing days, he remained committed to the game and ensured he ploughed back, especially in his beloved Potchefstroom, where he will be remembered as one of the biggest rugby men ever.

"Prof Claassen had a strong character and was a trustworthy man - which is why he was revered until the day he passed away.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Ada, his children, other family members and friends in this difficult time, but we know they will take solace in the fact that Prof Claassen will live in theirs and others' memories forever."