Rugby world in mourning after tragic death of Pedrie Wannenburg

Pedrie Wannenburg, pictured here tackling Matt Giteau in a Tri Nations match between South Africa and Australia in 2006.
Pedrie Wannenburg tackles Matt Giteau in a Tri Nations match between South Africa and Australia in 2006. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The rugby world is mourning the tragic death of former Springboks player Pedrie Wannenburg at age 41.

Wannenburg died in Austin, Texas on Saturday after a vehicle fleeing police crashed into the back of the vehicle he was driving.

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An Austin police spokesperson said a 16-year-old suspect, who had ignored a call to pull over, fled and struck the back of the vehicle driven by Wannenburg at an intersection.

Wannenburg and his son Francois were flown to hospital where the former Springbok succumbed to his injuries.

His son is recovering while his wife and daughter Isabelle escaped serious injury.

Wannenburg played 20 Test matches for South Africa as a loose forward between 2002 and 2007.

Pedrie Wannenburg, pictured here in action for the Springboks and New Zealand in 2007.
Pedrie Wannenburg in action for the Springboks and New Zealand in 2007. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The flanker was the first to play 100 matches for the Bulls in Super Rugby and won three titles with the Pretoria-based side in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

He also played for Irish side Ulster and French club Castres before settling in the United States with his family in 2016.

A family friend told AFP he was a "gentle giant".

"Hard as nails on the field and soft as jelly off it," said the Pretoria-based friend.

"Words fail me. I am battling to accept that Pedrie is no longer among us.

"He was a lekker oke (good guy) who loved his family, his friends and rugby. He did not deserve to die so young and in such terrible circumstances.

"If there is a silver lining on this dark occasion it is that the rest of the family escaped death."

Rugby world mourns death of Pedrie Wannenburg

South Africa Rugby President Mark Alexander told SA Rugby’s official website: “Pedrie was a fun-loving and hard-working man and someone who gave all he had on the pitch, but afterwards always had a smile on his face.

“He represented his country with aplomb – who will ever forget the try he scored in the narrow victory over the All Blacks in Rustenburg in 2006?

“To lose someone at the cusp of the rest of his life with a young family, after a long and storied rugby career, is extremely sad and our thoughts are with his wife, Evette, their two children, Isabelle and Francois, as well as his parents and other family members, loved ones and friends during this very difficult time.”

Eugene Eloff, a former coach of the Johannesburg-based Lions franchise, said on Facebook: "I am shattered. I have no words. Just heard that my friend Pedrie Wannenburg passed away in a car accident.

"Devastating news. RIP wonderful man. You will be missed so much.

"My heart goes out to Evette (his wife) and the kids. Keeping you in my heart and prayers."

Former Ulster teammate Dan Tuohy told the BBC: "Pedrie was ever-so talented and when he turned it on, wow, he could really play. He just read the game really well".

Wannenburg was considered unluckly not to have made the Springboks' World Cup squad in 2007 that went on to beat England in the final in Paris.

He moved to the United States six years ago and was working in the refrigeration industry and coaching the West Houston Lions.

with agencies

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