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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.
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."
Sjoe. Pedrie Wannenburg’s crash looks awful. RIP man pic.twitter.com/e6AFyXEX25
— Marty (@MartyMcLxmxn) April 23, 2022
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.
So sad to hear the devastating news of Pedrie Wannenburg’s passing! Wishing his son a full and speedy recovery and sending condolences to the whole Wannenburg family! 💔#RIPPedrie
— Joel Stransky (@stranners) April 23, 2022
So sorry to hear that former @UlsterRugby & @Springboks player Pedrie Wannenburg has passed away.
Our sympathies are with his family, friends and the South African rugby community.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/ujti6xGPTT
— RugbyPlayersIreland (@RugbyPlayersIRE) April 23, 2022
Noooo just got news that one of my favourite people Pedrie Wannenburg passed away in a car accident
One of the greatest characters of the game.
Thoughts love and prayers are with Evette and the kids.
Im stunned. RiP ou maat.
— Brenden Nel (@BrendenNel) April 23, 2022
I am shattered,have no words, my friend Pedrie Wannenburg passed away in a car accident. His family was in the car with him. Devastating news RIP wonderful man. You will be missed so much. My heart goes out to Evett and the kids. Keeping you in my heart and prayers. pic.twitter.com/1elIZf8Gps
— Eugene (Loffie) Eloff (@LoffieEloff) April 23, 2022
Ulster Rugby is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of former flanker, Pedrie Wannenburg following a car crash in Texas.
The Springbok played a major role in Ulster’s Heineken Cup and Pro12 campaigns, making 54 appearances for the Ulster men between 2010 and 2012. pic.twitter.com/dZyw0pC1dP
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) April 23, 2022
We are devastated at the passing of Vodacom Bulls legend Pedrie Wannenburg.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Wannenburg family 🕊 pic.twitter.com/ePecg3nSYU
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) April 23, 2022
Extremely sad news to wake up to this morning. Former team mate at Ulster, Pedrie Wannenburg, has tragically passed away in a car accident.
Pedrie was a legend of the game and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Thoughts are with his wife Evette and his young kids. #RIP
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) April 23, 2022
— Ulster Rugby Heritage (@SUFTUMHeritage) April 23, 2022
Horrible news about former Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg. He was one of the big names in the launch of MLR. Also with Bulls in their golden era, reached a European final with Ulster, at Castres when they won the Top 14, & reached Champions Cup with Oyonnax.https://t.co/rZTh2h2goA
— Tier 2 Rugby (@T2Rugby) April 23, 2022
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