JOOST .Rugby created a super star. Pain was the price he paid.

19 April 2024, Friday



 Genius is talent set on fire by courage : Henry Van Dyke




In this week’s newsletter tribute, I look back and share what I  came to personally learn through Joost , in the hope that shared insights can help and inspire others.

Anyone who has done their home work on Motor Neuron Dis-ease ( MND ), will come to realize that there exists a significant statistical link between MND and Sporting Superstars.

In America, MND is referred to as ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – and even more commonly as Lou Gehrig’s dis-ease, after the untimely death of the New York Yankee first baseman way back in 1941.

Doctors say there is  NO CURE for MND . Or are they merely  looking for answers in the wrong place?

When doctors say there is no cure I believe it’s time to  :

Think Differently

The genius of mainstream medicine lies primarily in the physical and chemical realms of life and health.

Joost travelled the world looking for a  cure . He participated in numerous medical trials, but sadly he found none .

What he did achieve – was to outlive all the doctors timelines .

What can we learn from Joost’s  courageous journey?

When things are not working – one must be prepared to radically change things

I believe the statistical  link to sports stars holds the key to conquering MND .

It’s  sending out a resounding message , but sadly , it’s a message which is being largely ignored.

If  one goes inside the game plans of MND  sporting super stars –  common  lifestyle patterns become  clearly evident.

It’s these common patterns which hold the key .Let’s explore .

There can be no doubting that sporting superstars often find life difficult when their glittering careers come to an abrupt end.

Hailed as heroes throughout their careers , BUT  then it’s all suddenly over .

When they hang up their boots, it’s their sheer sporting genius which leaves them with FRAGILE PERSONAL BRANDS.


It is a question of everybody wants your autograph, your photo, your time… all your life, people looked after you. You got away with everything – Joost van der Westhuizen


Stripped of   ‘the  position in the team ’, ‘the title’,  ‘the power’, ‘the badge ‘,’the cap’ or  ‘the wealth’ –  they find it increasingly difficult to accept their own self -worth without all the :

Fame, adoration, pampering and celebrity status

The ”instant pleasure” which has  long been part and parcel of their lives from an early age, is no longer .

As their  glamour filled sporting lifestyles come to an abrupt end, they are left with a void .

It’s here where one’s game plan for life can easily come crashing down.

For someone who has grown accustomed to ” enjoying instant pleasure’’  – it’s only human to try to offset  the dull pain of life after sport , with some form of instant pleasure .

And often the seeking of this  ‘’instant pleasure’’  comes through  inappropriate means.

For some this might be all fine, but when a disconnect comes into play between one’s inner and outer world, one  unwittingly sets oneself up for health problems .

When one’s actions are not aligned with who one really is, fertile ground is  created for the  onset of a state of dis-ease.

The under lying  human emotion is GUILT , and it  turns toxic .

Having studied hundreds of case studies on emotionally triggered dis-ease – I believe here lies the answer as to what triggers and fuels MND.

MND is a Human Emotional Dis-ease – triggered by long term held  GUILT.

And the only drug which can help , is a drug called :


To conquer MND, one must make significant  LIFE DESIGN changes.Restore LIFE BALANCE .

One must cut off the toxic emotional fuel called GUILT.

Consider this wisdom from Melanie Beattie:

Guilt is a messy and confusing emotion to handle, and it refuses to go away. It lowers one’s self esteem, gnaws away at our sense of strength and alienates us from other people. And sometimes it goes on for years and years. It makes us defensive, it makes us lie, and it drives internal anger, pain, imbalance and human frailty. It closes one down.

In reality, most of us have little or zero awareness of how toxic human emotions can close the human body down

(You can read more on the subject via an article I posted back in 2014)


When I first met Joostie in 2013, he was not in a good space.

Doctors had told him that MND is a terminal dis-ease – and gave him a timeline.

Joost was defiant. He was having nothing of it – saying he would do his level best to beat MND.

Your mind is going to be your illness. Joost van der Westhuizen

I came to learn that Joostie had a heart of gold , a wickedly dry sense of humour , courage, resilience that few of us will ever know , an enduring affection for Nelson Mandela, a great love for his children , and a burning desire to selflessly help others who were facing up to MND .

Courage is grace under pressure   – Ernest Hemingway

Joost made a number of significant changes to his game plan – his life design –  and he went on to make a huge a difference in the lives of so many.

He relentlessly drove MND awareness through his J9 foundation.

He made a MND movie. He participated in numerous MND trials. And he had a vision to open a MND Clinic.

He achieved all that and more .

And importantly,  he rebuilt a wonderfully close relationship  with his kids in his final years.

Joostie,  was lucky to have some very caring, kind and special people around him in his latter years. He deserved that .

Life throws you curve balls – and you have to live . Joost Van der Westhuizen

A self less Joostie always kept up a positive outlook and found an ever increasing special place in the forgiving hearts of all South Africans.

Joost made a lot of things right in his own life  , but sadly he never afforded himself the one gift he most needed – to forgive himself – to rid himself of the guilt – to love himself more .

It’s a learning for all of us .

I put myself thru hell and back in my life. I believe I did it to myself. I entangled my own life. Joost Van der Westhuizen

Joost was built tough. And he remained far too hard on himself –  coupled with an under lying inability to see his own self worth after his rugby days ended .

In reality, nearly all of us have little or zero awareness of how consciously or sub consciously held toxic emotions – such as guilt , resentment , hate , criticism and futility – can play  havoc with our lives and health .

As emotional beings, we live mostly hectic, fast-paced lives and many stressors are often in play.

It’s  these emotional stressors which have become far more toxic to us – than any of the physical or chemical stressors /toxins.

Let’s hope that Joostie’s selfless journey will continue to help and inspire millions of others.

Rugby created superstar . And pain was the price he paid.


God has a legend in his rugby team –   Mark Andrews


Rob Opie is a Brand Expert, Author, Speaker, and Performance Coach to Business Executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.


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