There was a sombre feeling in the DHL Stormers dressing-room on Saturday night, following the news of a tragic motor accident involving the Franschhoek Rugby Club team bus.
The Franschhoek team were travelling on a bus on Saturday morning, on their way to play in a friendly against Grabouw.
However, the bus was involved in an accident and one senior player, one Under-21 player and a spectator tragically died. Players Russel Riffel and Denzil Boonzaier and supporter Abraham Lybrand were identified as having lost their lives, whilst several other members of the club were injured when their bus overturned.
The DHL Stormers and the Sharks held a moment’s silence before kick-off in their Super Rugby clash at DHL Newlands on Saturday as a mark of respect to those killed in the bus accident – as well as in honour of former WPRFU and SARFU & SARU Life Member Johnny Daniels, who passed away earlier this week (ten days before his 90th birthday).
The DHL Stormers, of course, also played in red armbands on Saturday, as a show of solidarity with and as a mark of respect for all the fire-fighters after the recent Cape Fires.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the Franschhoek rugby community – especially those who lost loved ones,” said DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee after his team’s deserved 29-13 win over the Sharks on Saturday night.
“It’s been a testing time for us all in the Cape region (this past week), what with the Cape Fires, and now this.
“From the DHL Stormers we would like to sympathise with everyone in the Franschhoek rugby community and our condolences and hearts go out to those who lost loved ones.”
Coetzee’s Sharks counterpart, Gary Gold, also expressed his sadness at the happenings, saying: “On behalf of the Sharks we want to extend our sadness and well wishes to anyone affected in the tragic bus accident.
“It puts things into perspective and, as a rugby family, we send our condolences to the people who perhaps lost loved ones.”
Meanwhile, South African Rugby Union (SARU) President, Mr Oregan Hoskins, on Sunday expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those involved in the tragic accident.
Mr Hoskins said that the thoughts and prayers of all involved in rugby were with the club following the crash in which three people travelling on the bus lost their lives, as well as with two cyclists who were also seriously injured in the incident.
“This was most shocking and distressing news to receive on a Saturday morning – a time when rugby people all over the country are looking forward to enjoy playing or watching rugby,” said Mr Hoskins.
“I can only imagine the shock and distress that must be going through the Franschhoek Rugby Club right now – indeed the whole town of Franschhoek; my heart goes out to them.
“This is a terrible blow for the club and I am sure it will never be forgotten. My condolences go to those affected at this very distressing time.”