World Rugby is extremely saddened to learn that former New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu, a true legend of the game and a wonderful ambassador for the sport, has passed away today aged just 40.
A global sporting icon, Lomu inspired millions around the world with his incredible try-scoring exploits of power and pace on the field. Personifying rugby’s character-building values, he played a central role in World Rugby’s successful campaign to return the sport to the Olympic Games.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Today rugby has lost one of its true greats. Not just one of the finest players ever to play the game, but a gentleman, a role model and an icon.
“Jonah’s contribution to rugby cannot be overstated. He was the first superstar player and, through his sheer brilliance and love of the game, he brought much joy to the rugby family and took our sport to a new level of profile. His impact on Rugby World Cup 1995, in particular, was profound. He burst onto the scene with an energy, passion and intensity, the likes of which had never before been witnessed.
“Even after hanging up his boots, Jonah continued to promote and support the sport that he loved with as much passion, vigour and dedication as he channelled into playing. He gave his full support and considerable time to rugby’s Olympic Games campaign, presenting a compelling argument at the decisive International Olympic Committee session in Copenhagen in 2009 and of course he played such a massive part in supporting and promoting Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.
“Jonah will be remembered as a pioneering player, a gentleman and a great friend to the sport he loved. Our thoughts are with his family and the entire New Zealand rugby community at this sad time.”