Rugby world remembers New Zealand great Jonah Lomu

The "first global rugby superstar" Jonah Lomu has died aged 40

Jonah Lomu, hailed as the world’s “first global rugby superstar”, has died aged 40.


The fearsome New Zealand winger had been suffering from a rare kidney disorder, but family spokesperson John Mayhew told the country’s media that his death was “totally unexpected”.

Lomu was just 20 years old when he burst on to the stage at the 1995 Rugby World Cup as an 18 stone, 6ft 5in giant, sprinting round or, more often, straight through his opponents.

He scored four tries in the All Blacks’ victory over England in the semi-final, and a total of 15 tries at World Cup matches – joint top in the list of all-time World Cup scorers.

Current and former All Blacks have been paying tribute to the player online, including World Cup-winning fly half Dan Carter.

All Black Israel Dagg underlined Lomu’s influence round the world.

Lomu’s New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick led the tributes from former players.

After the 1995 match, England captain Will Carling famously said, “I am hoping not to come across him again. He’s a freak – and the sooner he goes away the better.”

On Wednesday morning, he paid his respects to a great friend.

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward spoke on Radio 4’s Today programme about what it was that made Lomu such a great player.

Students at Lomu’s former school in New Zealand, Wesley College, paid tribute to their famous alumnus with a haka.

The Sports Minister for new Zealand, Jonathan Coleman, told the BBC that Lomu “was the first global rugby superstar”, adding that he was a “huge inspiration to Polynesian men and actually in later years with his battles against kidney disease, very inspirational to people suffering from chronic diseases as well.”


New Zealand prime minister John Key meanwhile said, “The thoughts of the entire country are with this family.”