Monday, November 14, 2011
It's been a tragic weekend for South African rugby as former Springbok flanker Solly Tyibilika was gunned down in a township in Cape Town on Sunday. He died aged 32. Here is a look at the try he scored on his Test debut, against Scotland in 2004.
As reported on Twitter and Facebook yesterday, former Sharks, Lions, and Springbok flanker Tyibilika was shot dead while having a drink with friends in a shebeen. The hunt for his killers is on, with varying rumours and unconfirmed reports suggesting that it was a deliberate hit.
It's a tragic occurence and one that has sent shockwaves around the rugby fraternity globally. Tyibilika, who most recently played club rugby and coached at Hamiltons in Cape Town, had risen through the ranks since first playing for Griquas almost ten years ago. He went on to play for the Sharks and Lions, where his tremendous work ethic and strong ball carrying didn't go unnoticed.
He made the step up to international rugby in 2004, making his debut against Scotland at Murrayfield, and went on to play eight test matches in total, scoring three tries. His last game was against the All Blacks in 2006, where he also scored. Another highlight for Tyibilika will have been playing for the Southern Kings against the British & Irish Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa.
Tributes have poured in. Former agent Mike Makaab said that he always brought a smile to the faces of everyone around him. "I think a senseless crime like this just highlights the fact that unless we stop this sort of thing, our beautiful country is always going to be tarnished by the sort of people who behave in such a manner. My condolences go out to his family, and his friends - and may his soul rest in peace," he said.
SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said that Tyibilika led the way for black african rugby players. "I remember a very talented player and an immensely likeable young man who rose far and fast to become a Springbok early in his career. His emergence was a demonstration of what can be achieved when talent is combined with opportunity in what is always a very competitive position in Springbok rugby.
"The casual disregard for life in our society is shocking," added Hoskins, while players and former teammates expressed their shock and sympathies via Twitter.
Victor Matfield said: "How sad is it about Solly Tyibilika. Thinking of his family. We’ve got such a great country, if we can only sort out these terrible acts."
Sharks lock Ross Skeate said: "Terrible news about an amazing guy Solly Tyibilika leaving us. I’ll never forget spending three weeks in Romania with the man. RIP brother."
Former Golden Lions player Todd Clever said: "Heartbreaking news about Solly Tyibilika... My Brother, My friend and Teammate was killed today... R.I.P. #willneverforgetourtimes"
Born and raised in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Tyibilika's rugby journey took him around the country, and ultimately ended in Cape Town, where he now called home. He is survived by two young children, a boy and a girl, aged just two and nine months respectively.
Below is a look at the try he scored on his excellent Bok debut, where he became the first ever black African to score a Test try for the Springboks. May he Rest in Peace.