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'Fighter' Joost is headline guest at Tigers Events

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England rugby heroes Martin Johnson, Rory Underwood and Manu Tuilagi were joined by Springboks legend Joost van der Westhuizen as special guests at Tigers Events' hospitality at Twickenham on Saturday.

World Cup-winning scrum-half van der Westhuizen, who continues a high-profile battle with motor neurone disease, was the RFU’s guest of honour in the Royal Box for Saturday’s autumn Test between England and South Africa, and joined Tigers Events in the build-up to kick-off.
On stage with his brother Pieter and Springboks flanker Francois Louw at the Tigers Events facility at Kneller Hall in the shadows of Twickenham Stadium, van der Westhuizen helped to set the scene for the international action, talking about the great moments in his career playing against England.
“Joost is one of the all-time great rugby players, that is why we invited him,” said Matt Poole, a director of Tigers Events, who led the on-stage conversations.
“But at the same time it would have been remiss not to mention his battle with motor neurone disease and the devastating effect it has had on the health of a world-class athlete.
“He continues to fight well beyond the point where most people would be able to and is showing his undoubted strength of character to highlight what a devastating disease it is.
“It was a very humbling experience to be on stage with him and for the 300 people in the marquee.
“You realise how awful an illness it must be because it was clear from close up to him that his eyes sparkled as they always did and he was still very switched on and knew exactly what he was saying. So it must be hugely frustrating for him not to be able to put his thoughts across in much more than a whisper in his native Afrikaans for his brother to relay to the room. But such was the respect from everyone there – England supporters, South Africa supporters and general rugby supporters – that you could’ve heard a pin drop.
“Everyone enjoyed being able to share his company and to hear about his experiences of playing for South Africa against England, about the tackle on Jonah Lomu which played such a big part in allowing the Springboks’ historic World Cup win, and the chance to talk about having a go at Matt Dawson!”
Three other World Cup winners – Brad Thorn, Ben Kay and Sean Fitzpatrick – joined British & Irish Lions forward Geoff Parling as Tigers Events speakers at the opening match of the autumn series, between England and New Zealand the previous weekend.
Tigers Events will have another star-studded cast list for the final international of the autumn series, between England and Australia on November 29. For more details, see the Tigers Events website at www.tigersevents.com