Former Springbok, Stormers and Western Province centre, Tinus Linee, passed away on Monday morning at age 45 following a battle with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
The physical centre was born in Paarl in 1969 and made his debut for WP in 1992, playing 112 games for the South African province.
He was part of three Currie Cup winning teams (1997, 2000, 2001) and was alongside current Springbok captain Jean de Villiers when he made his provincial debut in 2001, which would be Linee's final season.
Linee featured in nine tour matches for the Boks during 1993-94 but was uncapped at Test level. His first match in the green and gold was against Victoria during a tour of Australia and he subsequently toured Wales, Scotland and Ireland, however did not ultimately feature in a Test.
His final performance for the national team was in 1994 against Welsh side Pontypridd.
Several years after his retirement from professional rugby, Linee joined WP management at Vodacom Cup level and also served as assistant coach at RCM Universitatea Timişoara in Romania alongside former Springbok teammate, Chester Williams, winning the domestic title in 2012.
In April 2013, Linee was diagnosed with MND; the same disease that former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen suffers from, and sadly passed away 18 months later on November 3, 2014.
Van der Westhuizen described Linee as a "rugby legend and MND warrior" on his Twitter feed upon hearing the news on Monday.
SARU President Oregan Hoskins said, "This is very sad news indeed.
“I would like to pass on my condolences to Tinus’ family and friends for his loss. Tinus was a fantastic rugby player and role model to many.
“He was a standard bearer for his community following rugby unity and carried that flag high, winning Springbok selection and touring twice with the national team. He was a fearless player renowned for his devastating defence and earned respect both in the rugby fraternity and in his community.
“His fighting spirit on the field and more recently off the field after being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease were the measure of the man. He left a legacy that I hope many players will aspire to. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who arrived in Ireland with the national team on Sunday for their year-end tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales, also extended condolences on behalf of the team as they began their preparations for Saturday’s Test.
“We heard the news from South Africa this morning about Tinus's sad passing and our thoughts were immediately with his family and community in the Western Cape,” said Meyer.
“We have lost a Springbok brother and it made for a sombre mood in the team room today. To have one so strong and brave struck down by this disease is very cruel indeed. We’ll be thinking of Tinus and his family when we take the field against Ireland on Saturday. He is in our thoughts and prayers.”
WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield said, "This is a sad, sad day for Western Province and South African Rugby.
"Tinus fought a very brave battle against a dreadful disease and his tenacity and guts will always be remembered - as a rugby player and during the past 18 months.
"Our thoughts are with his entire family, especially his wife Diana, who stood like a rock beside her husband."
He is survived by wife Diana and three children, Jean, Dieuwke-Jean and Breyton.
Sad day for Rugby in SA. Just received news of the passing of a rugby legend and MND Warrior Tinus Linee RIP my friend #J9Foundation— Joostvdwesthuizen (@9Joost) November 3, 2014
Very sad to hear this morning of the passing of Tinus Linee. Super guy and great player. Thoughts and prayers with his family! @bokrugby— Joel Stransky (@stranners) November 3, 2014
Sad to hear of Tinus Linee passing away! RIP! pic.twitter.com/igeHzP6cQp— Tag Rugby SA (@TagRugbySA) November 3, 2014