Wium Basson
Full names: Willem Wium
Date of birth: 23 Oct 1975
Place of birth: Paarl
School: Paarl Boys High
Springbok no: 661
Debut test province: Blue Bulls
Date of death: 21 Apr 2001 (Age 25)

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Friends and family say farewell to Basson

April 25 2001

Hardened rugby men were moved to tears on Wednesday when Springbok lock Wium Basson, who died of cancer aged just 25 on Sunday, was laid to rest at a poignant funeral in Paarl.

Basson's last words encouraged the living to thank God for life and be grateful that they could enjoy their health.

Basson, a midweek Springbok on the 1997 tour of Europe, whose rugby career ended through a neck injury, was diagnosed with cancer last month.

After he complained that he was battling to eat, doctors told him he had just weeks to live.

Encouraged by ex-Springbok Ruben Kruger, who was last year diagnosed with a brain tumour, Basson flew to Nigeria earlier this month to consult renowned faith healer TB Joshua.

But Basson's journey was in vain.

Over 1 000 people attended the funeral service at the Strooidak Dutch Reformed church.

The Bulls, who are in the middle of a dismal Super 12 campaign, won new admirers in the Boland town as 13 players and officials flew to Cape Town to say goodbye to their friend.

Former teammates Joost van der Westhuizen, Danie van Schalkwyk, Franco Smith, Krynauw Otto, Marius Goosen, MacNeil Hendricks, Casper Steyn, Arno Barnard, Jaco Booysen and Nicky van der Walt served as pallbearers.

The Stormers were represented by their captain Corne Krige, a former schoolmate of Basson's at Paarl Boys High; Braam van Straaten; Toks van der Linde; Charl Marais; Dan van Zyl; Hottie Louw; and Robbie Kempson.

Van der Westhuizen said Basson was "a mate".

"He'll be remembered as a big guy who always gave 110 percent. He has been a great example to everyone. His death has shown us that you can't take too much for granted, and it has reinforced our motivation to treat each game as the last and to always give only our best."

The service was particularly painful for Basson's mother Cloete Geldenhuys as it was held in the same church as the funeral for Wium's younger brother JP, who died in a car accident five years ago.

The Reverend Bekker Niewoudt described Basson as a jovial and big, strong man with a love for life.

"But he was also a man with a soft heart, particularly for others who were taking strain," said Niewoudt.

"He was also naughty," he added, and related a story of how Basson had separated a pair of palm trees from outside one pub, The Tropical Oasis, and transported one in a car with a sunroof to another, The Dros, where it still stands.

Basson's last words to close friends and family were:

"All that you are being asked is that you must surrender and live the life he wants you to live. Here is something to think about: if God is with us, who can be against us?"