He was a crowd-pleasing star of his native Eastern Province team in a provincial career spanning 17 seasons between 1974 and 1990 during which he earned the nickname ‘King of Wings’.

He was first selected for the SARU national team in 1978 and played for them until 1982 in an era when representative matches were few and far between.

“It is a tragedy that a wider world never got to see him in full flight,” said Mr Alexander. “He was a terrifying prospect for opponents and richly deserved his nickname of the King of Wings.

“We send our condolences to his family and the whole Eastern Province rugby community as we say farewell to one of the greats of an era we should never forget.”

‘Debbo’ was an outstanding centre or wing, pairing elusive running with powerful hips and thighs to power him through would-be tacklers if necessary, in a prodigious try-scoring career that made him a crowd favourite.

He was born in Port Elizabeth and educated at Alpha Primary School and Gelvandale Secondary School where his talent was such that he joined the senior ranks at the Wallabies Rugby Football Club at the age of 17.

He trained as a teacher at Dower College and pursued a long and successful career as an educator, playing for the college team but was otherwise a Wallabies man through and through.

He won three SA Cup titles with EP in his long career, appearing at times in an all-SARU provincial backline of class and grace.