SARU legend Eric Sauls laid to rest in Kariega, E Cape

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The South African Rugby Union legend Eric Sauls has been buried in Kariega in the Eastern Cape. He lost the battle to cancer on Thursday last week at the age of 67.

Sauls will be remembered as the coach who lead the Baby Boks to their first ever World Cup win in 1999, when they beat New Zealand 27-25. This was the same team that John Smit had captained.

The Senior Manager of government and stakeholder relations at SARU, Khaya Mayedwa says the important role that Eric played in rugby has positively influenced a lot of young people.

“It is immensely a sad day for SA rugby as we bid farewell to this remarkable man. He has made a magnanimous contribution to the game, a catalyst of transformation, but more importantly the fact that he has imparted his knowledge and was also ready to learn. He has trained and actually imparted knowledge to very young people, and actually touched many lives; we can talk about Siya Kholisi, and many more.”

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The deceased’s friends say they will miss him.

“Eric’s impact on rugby was extremely big. He coached on all school levels – EP academy teams, EP Craven Week teams, SA schools, SA academy teams. I went through all those things with him. but Eric went on to coach players from other provinces as was said at his service. He has so many certificates in coaching and mentorship. He has left an indelible mark in our lives and memories,” says one.

Another friend adds, “I have known Eric my whole life, he was such an inspiration to me. It’s because of his leadership that I have achieved all I have in rugby. He wasn’t just a friend; he was also my teacher. I grew up with this brother and his family. When I heard about his passing it affected me deeply. But as we have learned today, he was a legend who touched the lives of many young people.” – Reporting by Sinethemba Witi.