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South African rugby in mourning as ex-Springbok’s toddler drowns


Jannie du Plessis remains hugely respected in the South African rugby scene.

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Jannie du Plessis remains hugely respected in the South African rugby scene.

The South African rugby community is rallying around former Springbok Jannie du Plessis and his family after the drowning of their one-year-old son.

Gauteng police confirmed to News24 they were investigating an inquest docket after the toddler drowned in a swimming pool on Wednesday (NZT).

”On November 16 at about 1900 police were called to a scene of drowning whereby a 10 month old baby boy fell in the swimming pool.,” the police said in a statement.

The incident happened as Du Plessis was celebrating his 39th birthday at his home in Krugersdorp, a mining town to the west of Johannesburg.

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Du Plessis, who is a qualified medical doctor, played 70 tests for the Springboks between 2007 and 2015, helping them win the 2007 World Cup in France.

Du Plessis and his wife Ronel have two other children, daughters Rosalie and Hele.

“We, as a Lions family, aren’t doing well,” Lions chief executive Rudolf Straeuli told News24. Du Plessis still has a mentoring role with the Lions, helping their young props.

“I can confirm that this tragedy took place. We are all devastated.

Springboks prop Jannie du Plessis in action against the All Blacks in 2014.

Gallo Images/Getty Images

Springboks prop Jannie du Plessis in action against the All Blacks in 2014.

“As I’m sure everyone can understand, Jannie and his family now need to be left alone to process this tragedy. We offer our full support to him and kindly request everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.”

The world champion Springboks, currently touring Europe, were shocked when they woke to the news.

“It’s not nice to get out of bed and read a message from your wife informing you of such a tragedy,” Springboks loose forward Duane Vermuelen said from London where the Boks take on England at Twickenham this weekend.

“I simply can’t imagine what Jannie and his family must be going through. I can’t begin to comprehend what one must feel after such a loss.

“As the day progressed, the whole squad had been made aware of the developments.

“As a family, they’ll be in our thoughts throughout. We really want to offer them all our condolences, we understand it’s a hugely difficult time,” said Vermeulen.

“We’ll stand behind them and support them as best we can as individuals.”

Du Plessis has been with the Lions since 2019. He also played for the Sharks and Cheetahs. His younger brother Bismark also played for the Springboks.

The Sharks tweeted that they were sending their “deepest condolences to Jannie, Ronel and the entire du Plessis family on the tragic loss of his young son”.

The SA Rugby Legends also sent a message to the tighthead prop saying: “Our heartfelt thoughts, prayers and condolences go to Jannie and Ronel du Plessis on the tragic loss of their beloved son. We are heartbroken for you.”



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